Pack Softball Loses 1-0 Heartbreaker in 12 Innings to No. 5 TennesseeSophomore pitcher Emily Weiman goes the distance in the longest postseason game in both NC State and Tennessee history. An 11th-inning, run-scoring triple ended the classic pitcher's duel between Weiman and Tennessee's Ellen Renfroe. The Pack played a second game later Saturday night.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - It took the longest NCAA regional game in Tennessee history for the fifth-ranked and host Volunteers to beat NC State pitcher Emily Weiman and the Wolfpack on Saturday in the winner's bracket game of the NCAA Knoxville Regional at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.
The Volunteers took the 1-0 victory in the bottom of the 11th on designated player Rainey Gaffin's triple off the right centerfield wall, scoring teammate Cheyanne Tarango for the marathon four-hour game's only run.
The loss ended the Wolfpack's 13-game winning streak, the second longest in school history, and sent State to an elimination game on Saturday night against the winner of the Longwood and James Madison elimination game early Saturday evening.
Weiman, the Pack's workhorse throughout the season, was sensational in the circle, allowing eight hits and two walks in her 10 2/3 innings of action, matching the longest outing of her collegiate career. She went the same number of innings as a freshman last season against College of Charleston, in which she struck out a career-high 15 hitters.
Saturday, she was going pitch-for-pitch with Tennessee junior Ellen Renfroe, who did not allow a run in her 11 innings of work. Renfroe (17-4) allowed four hits and four walks, while striking out 13 Wolfpack batters. That's the same number she struck out against NC State earlier this season in Tampa in the championship game of the USF 4-Team Tournament in February.
But the Wolfpack (34-19-1) was a completely different team on Saturday than in that 8-2 defeat, and Weiman, who lasted only one inning in that title game, was a completely different pitcher.
"I've been in fastpitch softball since I was 15 years old and played in some big games on the national and international level," said first-year head coach Shawn Rychcik. "That's one of the best softball games I've ever been involved with.
"Em's performance against one of the best lineups in the country, to make the pitches she needed to when they have a lineup of .400 hitters four or five times in a game, it's one of the best efforts I've ever seen in any level, whether I was coaching or playing. "
Both starters came back after the game was delayed for 35 minutes in a short rain delay with one out in the bottom of the fifth.
They were both just as good after the delay as they were after it. They both ended up throwing more than 160 pitches in the game, with Renfroe tossing 164 pitches and Weiman throwing 162.
Gaffin's game-winning triple in the bottom of the 11th was the only extra-base hit given up by either pitcher in the entire game.
"I went to a 2-0 count on her, so that put her at a little bit of an advantage," Weiman said. "I made a good pitch on the inside. She got her bat head on it and drove it into right field.
"Credit to her, she had a great at-bat."
The Pack offense, which has been potent all season, was held without a run for the first time since an eight-inning 1-0 setback against Michigan in the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif., on March 16. It was also only the fifth time in the Pack's last 23 games the team failed to hit at least one home run.
In the decisive 11th inning, Weiman (32-17) retired SEC Player of the Year Lauren Gibson, a fellow native of Pasadena, Md., who was once Weiman's travel team teammate. Madison Shipman followed with a pop up to State shortstop Renada Davis.
But Tarango singled down the right field line and Gaffin followed with the only RBI of the day.
Until the rain delay, Tennessee did not have more than one runner on base in any inning. It did threaten in the ninth when Shipman led off with a single. As the Volunteers tried to sacrifice Shipman to second, Wolfpack third baseman Lana Van Dyken fielded the bunt and whipped the ball to second base. Davis then threw out the hitter at first for the rare sacrifice double play.
In the 10th, the Volunteers put runners on second and third with one out, but Weiman got out of the inning with a pair of pop ups to second baseman Chelsea Tate.
The Vols also had a threat in the third, when lead-off hitter Raven Chavanne, one of college softball's fastest players, beat Weiman's throw to first on a two-out bunt to the circle.
Chavanne, who entered the game 39-for-39 on stolen base attempts, was thrown out trying to steal second by Wolfpack All-ACC catcher Kirsty Grant, on a perfect throw to shortstop Renada Davis.
The Pack responded by loading the bases in the top of the fourth, with Dent drawing a lead-off walk, followed by back-to-back one-out singles by freshman Hanna Sommer and junior Scout Albertson.
But Renfroe got out of the inning by inducing an infield pop-up by Wells and a strikeout by Leah Jones.
The Pack also put runners on base in the fifth on a pair of walks, in the seventh on a hit and intentional walk and in the ninth, 10th and 11th innings on Volunteer errors, but was unable to push a run across the plate against Renfroe.
"We are still very positive about what we can do," Dent said. "We want to face them again. We know we can beat them, especially after this game."
Follow the Pack throughout the postseason on Twitter (@PackSoftball), by liking the official NC State Softball Facebook page and at www.GoPack.com/softball.
@packsoftball great job ladies. Feeling nothing but Pride about Pack Softball