Softball sweeps N.C. State at home, falls to UGA

On Saturday March 26, the Tech softball team hosted N.C. State in the team’s first conference series of the season. Tech won the first two games of the series on Saturday and then blew out the Wolfpack en route to a 14-0 win in the series finale.

Tech then traveled to UGA for a single game on March 30. Tech could not continue its winning streak and fell to the No. 2 Bulldogs, 10-2.

In the first game of the series, sophomore pitcher Hope Rush started the game for the Jackets but she did not have her best outing. Rush labored through 143 pitches over the course of just six innings and gave up four runs.

The Wolfpack struck early with two doubles in the first inning. This gave N.C. State a 1-0 lead heading into the bottom of the inning.

The Jackets’ hitters looked lost at the plate to begin the game as the first three batters all struck out swinging.

The poor start did not set a tone for the game, however, and the Jackets were able to take the lead in the second inning by virtue of a Wolfpack error.

Over the course of the next couple of innings, Rush would record a wild pitch, two walks and hit a batter to give the lead back to the Wolfpack at 4-2.

The Jackets would remain down by two until the game’s deciding seventh inning when junior shortstop Kelsi Weseman tripled to tie the game at four.

Head Coach Sharon Perkins then employed a suicide bunt that was struck perfectly by senior third baseman Kristene Priebe, scoring Weseman, and giving Tech the 5-4 win.

In the day’s second game, the Wolfpack were again able to strike early when a couple of singles, a wild pitch and a walk plated two runs to begin the game.

Tech’s offense would be held silent through the games next four innings. During this offensive drought, N.C. State was able to capitalize and added two more runs to pad its lead.

The floodgates finally opened for the Jackets in the fifth inning. The rally began when freshman second baseman Ashley Thomas singled to start the bottom half of the inning.

Fellow slapper senior centerfielder Christy Jones followed Thomas with a single of her own and proceeded to steal a base to put two runners into scoring position. Junior catcher Kate Kuzma put the Jackets on the scoreboard with a three-run homer. The mental and physical impact appeared to be a large one for the N.C. State pitcher as she walked the next five batters she faced to score another Tech run and to help Tech pull close to the lead.

Down a run with the bases loaded, freshman third baseman Alysha Rudnik took a 2-2 pitch to deep left field for a grand slam, giving the Jackets the lead for good at 8-4.

Outside of two bad innings, senior pitcher Kristen Adkins looked good in her 13th win of the season. The righty only allowed two earned runs and six hits in seven innings of work.

The third and final game started well for the Jackets as Adkins held N.C. State scoreless in the game’s first inning, and the Jackets’ offense answered by scoring five runs on three home runs.

Another big inning, highlighted by a pair of doubles, led to four more Tech runs in the second inning to extend the lead to nine.

N.C. State left three runners on base in the fourth inning and it seemed that they would not have enough chances left to win the game.

The Jackets took advantage of some Wolfpack blunders in the bottom half of the inning, and despite never getting more than a single, they still managed to score five runs in the frame. A series of wild pitches and passed balls allowed Tech runners to keep advancing around the base paths.

On March 30, the Jackets traveled to Athens hoping to win their eighth game in a row. The Jackets were unsuccessful, however, and fell to the Bulldogs 10-2.

The Bulldogs got on the scoreboard early, as an error led to an unearned run for Adkins.

Adkins did not pitch her best game against UGA, but only seven of the runs she gave up were earned.

Two more errors in the second inning led to five more UGA runs. The big blow came with a bases loaded home run that put the Jackets down by six runs.

After an uneventful third inning, Tech finally scored a couple of runs in the fourth.

Kuzma singled to start the inning and Weseman followed her with a two-run homer to deep left field.

Up four, UGA further added to its lead in the bottom half of the fourth. A leadoff single ended the day for Adkins who finished with four hits and two walks in only 3.1 innings.

Rush came into the game for Adkins and immediately walked a batter and then gave up a three-run homer. Two wild pitches added another run for the Bulldogs before Rush was finally able to get out of the inning.

The Jackets were not able to put a dent in their eight run deficit, and the teams ended the game early.

Tech next plays at Maryland on April 2-3 for the team’s second conference series of the season. The Jackets then host Kennesaw State on April 6 for a middle of the week game.

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