Tech softball dominates against JSU and NC State

Senior Mallorie Black celebrates with her teammates. Black hit a grand slam in the 10-2 win over NC State on Sunday. // Photo by GTAA

Tech’s softball program has been electric in the past several weeks, going undefeated in the 11 games since the Clearwater Invitational. The Jackets hosted the Jacksonville State University (JSU) Gamecocks on Wednesday, March 5 and traveled to North Carolina (NC) State University Wolfpack for their second ACC series of the season. The Gamecocks came out swinging — the first saw JSU’s freshman left-fielder Emma Elrod hit a two-run homer off sophomore right-handed pitcher (RHP) Jaidyn Studebaker before retiring the inning with two strikeouts.

The Jackets responded swiftly behind a three-run homer by junior left-fielder Madison Dobbins, however the Gamecocks scored three with two outs in the second. Senior shortstop Emma Jones-Hubbard took a shot down the left field foul line to score two and later scored on a knock back up the middle from senior first-baseman Lindsey Richardson to put Tech in a 3-5 hole. The Jackets began to climb back, as senior catcher Sara Beth Allen struck a solo homer in the third. Allen loaded the bases with two outs to allow senior third-baseman Mallorie Black to hit a two-run single. 

Graduate student second-baseman Tiffany Domingue followed with another two-run single giving Tech a 8-5 lead. Two double plays in the final innings secured the Jackets’ victory despite giving up a single score in the sixth. The 8-6 victory against the JSU Gamecocks notched Tech’s 14th consecutive home win before facing NC State in a double-header on Friday, March 7. Junior right-handed pitcher (RHP) Sophia Voyles put on a clinic against the Wolfpack. Voyles held a no-hitter alongside six strikeouts going into the seventh. Tech was unable to capitalize on Voyles’ performance despite having a runner on base every inning of the game. The Wolfpack added a run, but a Domingue double gave Tech a one-run lead but was matched in the bottom of the seventh with a solo-homer from junior right-fielder Taylor Ensley. Junior RHP Kinsey Norton put away the seventh to send the game into extra innings tied 1-1. 

Behind double plays in the eighth and ninth innings, Norton continued a dominant season as she completed the game without a run scored. With a shot down the left field foul line, sophomore right-fielder Paige Vukadinovich sent a run home in the eleventh, and with the bases loaded, a pair of runs scored to
give the Jackets a 4-1 victory.

Tech carried their momentum into the second game. The Jackets went up 3-0 in two innings. Fifth-year RHP Blake Neleman commanded the defense to allow only two hits and a single run in four innings pitched, as Taylor Ensley sent her sister, left-fielder Tori Ensley, home with a single. Dennis relieved Neleman in the fifth and continued to constrict the Wolfpack’s offense.

With two-outs and the bases loaded in the fourth, Black stepped into the batter’s box and sent the third pitch beyond the fence for a grand slam to put the game out of reach. Edgmon ran home off a Domingue ground-out in the sixth to add another score. A double play in the sixth combined with a dealing Dennis closed the game 8-1.

Sunday started quickly as Edgmon scored off a Dobbins double in the first, and the Wolfpack responded in the bottom with a two-run homer off Voyles — the only runs for NC State. The Jackets retaliated with a four-run second inning in a two-out rally where Edgmon scored senior shortstop Jin Sileo and sophomore catcher Reese Hunter before Allen blasted a massive two-run homer.

Dennis relieved Voyles in the third allowing only a single hit, but only pitched three innings after a five run fourth forced a run-rule victory for the Jackets. Black sent two home on an outfield shot, and Domingue ground-out to a shortstop advanced the bases and scored on Edgmon. Their eventual 10-2 win and NC State sweep grew Tech’s winning streak to 15, the second longest in program history. Following their dominant week, the Jackets are now ranked No. 25 according to the Softball America Top 25 poll. After traveling to Athens to battle the University of Georgia Bulldogs, the Jackets host the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish next weekend to defend their winning streak.