Softball sweeps N.C.State, tops Kennesaw State

The Tech softball team travelled to N.C. State over the weekend for a three-game series against their conference foes. The Jackets swept the Wolfpack, winning both games of a Saturday doubleheader by scores of 6-4 and 6-3, as well as the series finale on Sunday, 5-2. The sweep made it six wins in a row against ACC opponents for the Jackets and catapulted them into third place in the conference standings. With the losses, N.C. State remains winless in conference play on the season.

Junior Hope Rush pitched a complete game for the Jackets in game one and earned the victory, giving up four runs (three earned) on six hits while striking out two. Rush also scored the first run of the game on a solo shot in the second inning. After the Wolfpack tied the game in the bottom of that frame, the Jackets offense exploded in the third, scoring four runs off of five straight hits. A few singles and a wild pitch set up runners on second and third for senior Kelsi Weseman, who brought them both home with a shot to center field. The next batter, sophomore Alysha Rudnik, hit a two-run homer to center field and gave Tech a 5-1 lead. Weseman scored another run in the fifth, when two wild pitches and a passed ball allowed her to advance all the way around the diamond. NC State closed the gap late in the game with two runs in the fifth and another in the sixth, but it was not enough to complete the comeback.

The second game of the doubleheader also resulted in a victory for the Jackets. Freshman Kylie Kleinschmidt went the distance for Tech, pitching a full seven innings while giving up three runs on four hits and walking five. Tech’s offense continued from where they left off, scoring three runs in the first inning to take an early lead. Sophomore Ashley Thomas scored the first run off of a Rush single, with Weseman and junior Kelly Delashmit also scoring in the inning. The Wolfpack scored two runs of their own in the third to cut Tech’s lead to one, but that was as close as this game would get. N.C. State could not get out of their own way as they committed four errors on the day and gave up four unearned runs. Two came in the fifth, with another coming in the sixth due to a throwing error.

The Jackets beat N.C. State again on Sunday, scoring all five of their runs off of homers. Rush pitched another complete game a day after her last one, giving up no earned runs off eight hits and striking out three. Weseman hit a solo shot on the third pitch of the game to begin the Jackets’ attack. Rudnik blasted a home run to centerfield in the third inning to bring home Weseman and finished the day three-for-three. The Wolfpack came back to score two runs in the fifth to cut their deficit to one. But Tech hit another two-run homer in the top of the sixth, this time off the bat of freshman Karly Fullem that scored senior Shannon Bear and made the score 5-2. The win on Sunday brought the Jackets’ record up to 23-16, while the loss dropped N.C. State to 15-22.

The Jackets went on to extend their win streak to five games in a midweek contest at Kennesaw State. Sophomore Ashley Thomas went 3-for-4, falling a homer short of the cycle as Tech won 6-3 in a game that ended after five-and-a-half innings due to rain.

Tech recorded only six hits on the evening but took advantage of several KSU mistakes to secure the victory. The Jackets scored five runs in the third inning and one in the fourth; over that span, sophomore Hayley Downs and Thomas scored on wild pitches, and Bear and senior Danielle Dike both brought in runs when they were hit by pitches. KSU center fielder Natalie Rhodes had a two-run triple as part of a three-run third inning, but Rush held the Owls’ offense in check otherwise, allowing just four hits and a walk over four innings pitched.

The Jackets return to action on Saturday, April 7, when they kick off a weekend series at home against the Maryland Terrapins with a doubleheader.