NC State Softball Hosts UNC For Senior Day
RALEIGH, N.C. - The NC State softball team closes out its 2013 home schedule this weekend by hosting rival North Carolina in a three-game series at the Curtis and Jacqueline Dail Softball Stadium on NC State's campus.
The teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday, beginning at 1 p.m., as the Pack celebrates Senior Day for Caitlin Dent, Katie Mansilla and Bethaney Wells. The teams will play the finale on Sunday, beginning at 1 p.m. The first two games will be broadcast by ESPN3 and the final game will be shown on the ACC Digital Network on YouTube. Links to all three games are available above.
The Wolfpack (21-17-1 overall and 5-6 in the ACC) has been on a tear of late, winning seven of its last eight games. The team's current four-game winning streak matches its longest of the season. No. 24 North Carolina (32-13, 9-3) has won eight of its last nine contests, including a two-game split with ACC foe Virginia Tech and a two-game sweep of Virginia.
"I think we are in a pretty good spot right now," said first-year coach Shawn Rychcik. "It's an exciting weekend and I hope we will have a lot of people at the ballpark. No matter what sport you play, you want your games to mean something, and these three this weekend certainly do.
"We have some good momentum going right now. Hopefully, we can continue to put some runs on the board."
The Pack has belted out 53 home runs this season, which leads the ACC, and has at least one homer in 15 of its last 17 contests. On Wednesday at Campbell, the Pack slammed six home runs in an 8-0, five-inning win and in a 7-5 victory. Dent was the offensive star, hitting two home runs in each game to double her home run total on the season to eight. On the day, she was a remarkable 5-for-6 with four homers, five runs scored and nine RBIs.
Sophomore shortstop Renada Davis also provides power to the Wolfpack lineup. She ranks third nationally with her school-record 17 home runs, trailing national co-leaders Lauren Chamberlain of top-ranked Oklahoma and Megan Baltzell of Longwood by one homer going into the weekend.
Davis has led off five games with homers for the Wolfpack and has hit homers in three of her last four games.
"I think the whole weekend will come down to how we hit their pitching," Rychcik said. "We are a lot different team than in years past, with a different mindset and different physical abilities."
In the circle, the Wolfpack relies on sophomore righthander Emily Weiman (19-15), who leads the ACC in appearances and innings pitched and is second in wins and earned run average. She will likely face North Carolina junior Lori Spingola (22-10), who leads the ACC in wins and strikeouts and is second to Weiman in appearances and innings pitched.
"Em has faced good hitters all year and she has been able to keep us in the ball game," Rychcik said. "She has proven that she can pitch with anybody in the country and keep anybody's offense in check. We always know we are going to have a chance when she goes into the circle.
"It will come down to what we do offensively. Hopefully, she will keep us in the game and we will have a chance in each of these games to swing for the lead at some point.
The Pack's three seniors will be recognized before Saturday's first game. They have contributed 14 years of service between them, with Wells and Mansilla both being fifth-year seniors. They are all trying to put the emotion of their final games at Dail Stadium aside as they get ready for an important conference series.
"I'm just excited to play Carolina at home," Wells said. "These are three really important games that we need to win and I think we absolutely have the ability to do it. That's the exciting thing -- to have a chance to beat them.
"We have a great chance to move up in the ACC and to put ourselves in position to go to an NCAA Regional."
The Pack will complete the regular season with weekend trips to Virginia and Boston College, plus a midweek doubleheader at Elon. It will play in the ACC Championships in Tallahassee, Fla., May 9-11.
Follow the team on Twitter (@PackSoftball), by liking the NC State Softball Facebook page and at www.GoPack.com/softball.