Pack Softball Opens ACC Season By Hosting Florida State
March 8, 2013
Saturday, March 9
RALEIGH, N.C. – Heading into the 2013 softball season, NC State first-year coach Shawn Rychcik wasn’t exactly sure how to define his inaugural Wolfpack squad.
Now, as the Pack (11-5-1) heads into the first weekend of ACC play, Rychcik has a good adjective for his team.
“I think we are a pretty dangerous team,” said Rychcik, who has guided his new charges to a pair of tournament wins and a runner-up finish in another. “We have improved in a lot of ways and until you play against us, you don’t really realize how much. “
The Wolfpack will be tested over the next week, beginning Saturday with a doubleheader against Florida State to open its conference schedule. The teams will meet again on Sunday in a single game. It begins a streak of facing eight teams in eight days that are currently ranked, have been ranked or are receiving votes in the two major softball polls.
Next week, the Pack will play in the Judy Garmin Classic, where it is slated to face top-ranked Oklahoma, No. 10 Texas and No. 14 Michigan. The Pack has faced strong competition already this season, taking two of three against Big 12 opponent Kansas, beating No. 12 South Florida and losing a pair to No. 4 Tennessee.
Saturday’s first contest against the Seminoles is slated to begin at 1 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN3.
The second game has been moved to a free broadcast on GoPack All-Access so ESPN3 can broadcast the NC State-Clemson baseball game at 4 p.m. Sunday’s game will also be aired for free on GoPack All-Access. ESPN3 has also added coverage for the Sunday game of the North Carolina series on April 13-14.
Florida State (14-8), previously ranked in both major softball polls, has played in four early-season tournaments, winning the Panhandle Invitational and Renegade Classic, losing in the championship game of the Unconquered Invitational and losing four of five in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palms Springs. Calif.
The Seminoles are led by junior Courtney Senas, who owns a .338 batting average with five home runs and 25 RBIs.
The Wolfpack has gotten strong performances all season by sophomore pitcher Emily Weiman (10-4), who leads the ACC in wins. She earned ACC Pitcher of the Week honors for March 4 after picking up three wins in the Wolfpack Challenge.
The Pack has also been productive offensively, led by sophomore shortstop Renada Davis, who leads the ACC with nine home runs. As a team, the Pack leads the league with 27 homers after hitting 13 in four games last weekend. That total included a school-record seven homers against North Carolina A&T on Saturday.
Davis, hitting from the lead-off spot in the lineup all season long, has homered in the Pack’s last three games and played stellar defense all season long. She has reached base in the Pack’s first at bat in eight of 17 games, including a pair of homers, a double, two walks and two errors.
The rest of the offense has performed well too. Junior rightfielder Scout Albertson, who hit five home runs all of last season, hit four long balls on Saturday alone, with two against Kansas and two against N.C. A&T.
Freshman Hanna Sommer has also hit four homers and is tied for fourth in the ACC with Albertson.
“Our pitching is maturing, our bats are becoming more consistent and I know I can rely on my defense,” Rychcik said. “We feel confident that we can make plays behind our pitchers. We are not the fastest team, but we are pretty smart about knowing what we need to do.
“You put all of that together and I think we are pretty dangerous.”