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Wolfpack Softball Tops Pirates 9-3

RALEIGH, N.C. – After waiting through a two-hour rain delay, East Carolina took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first at N.C. State, but the Wolfpack scored the game’s final nine runs to earn a 9-3 victory.

Following the shaky opening frame, NCSU pitcher Emily Weiman allowed just three hits over the remaining six innings. The Pirates (15-21) got a two-run home run from sophomore Jordan Lewis in the first inning, but N.C. State (16-22) used two hits, two runs scored and two driven in from Caitlin Dent to help in the win. The second game of Wednesday’s originally scheduled doubleheader was canceled due to the rain delay.

Freshman Sarah Christian started in the circle and threw the first two innings, allowing three runs on five hits. Classmate Courtney Smith (3-10) suffered the loss, throwing three-and-a-third innings, giving up six runs on eight hits and a walk. She also fanned two. Senior Priscilla Velasquez recorded the final two outs of the contest and was tagged for one hit. The trio of Pirate pitchers combined to hit five NCSU batters during the contest. Weiman (10-14) went the distance for the Wolfpack, allowing five hits and three unearned runs. She struck out nine and walked a pair.

In the top of the first, East Carolina jumped out to a 3-0 lead with just two hits. After a strikeout started the frame, sophomore Kristi Oshiro drew a walk. Senior Suzanne Riggs also whiffed, but on the third strike, Oshiro stole second base and moved to third as catcher Kirsty Grant’s throw was kicked by the sliding Oshiro and ended up in left center. A grounder back to Weiman by Velasquez was mishandled and Oshiro came home on the error to put the Pirates ahead 1-0. After fouling off four-straight pitches, Lewis sent her two-run long ball to left center for the 3-0 advantage. Sophomore Jasmine Robbins kept it going with an infield single, but was caught stealing to end the threat.

N.C. State answered immediately in the bottom of the first, tying the game at 3-3. With two outs and Dent on first base following a fielder’s choice, Bethaney Wells doubled down the left-field line to put runners on second and third. Scout Albertson followed with a single to right field that drove in the pair. Katie Mansilla was hit by a pitch to put two on base for Renada Davis, who singled to center to plate Albertson. On the play, Mansilla got caught between second and third and was tagged out in a rundown to close the frame.

The Pirates had a chance to retake the lead in the top of the third, but could not convert. With one out, Oshiro reached on an error and Riggs was hit by a pitch. A pair of strikeouts kept ECU off the board.

Smith entered to start the bottom of the third and the Wolfpack greeted her with back-to-back home runs by Dent and Wells, putting the hosts up 5-3. After a pop out, a single and two hit batsmen loaded the bases with just one out, but consecutive fielder’s choices left three on base and ended the inning.

ECU had another opportunity to score in the fifth and could not push across a run. Sophomore Jill Jelnick led off with a single to left and moved to second on Oshiro’s Conference USA-leading 10th sacrifice bunt of the season. A groundout to shortstop and lineout to left kept Jelnick from crossing home.

The Wolfpack had a chance to add to its lead in the bottom of the fifth before a double play kept it a two-run contest. Mansilla led off with a single to center. Davis grounded one toward junior third baseman Kai Clark, who made the backhanded snag and strong toss to second for the force on Mansilla. After the fielder’s choice, Chelsea Tate walked on four pitches to put runners on first and second. Pinch hitter Sara Lippard entered and grounded into an inning-ending double play as second baseman Oshiro tossed to shortstop Chelsea Kaluhiokalani-Glackin, who threw to senior first baseman Priscilla Velasquez.

NCSU put the game out of reach with a four-run sixth for the 9-3 final. Three-straight singles by Landon Warren, Toni Ann Williford and Dent to start the frame delivered the first run. Wells was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but Albertson struck out swinging for the first out. Mansilla was hit by a pitch to force in another run and make it a 7-3 contest. Velasquez entered for Smith and retired Davis on a fielder’s choice, but Tate singled to right to drive in two more. Velasquez ended the inning throwing Grant out at first on a grounder.

In the seventh, Weiman walked freshman pinch hitter Alexa Cannon to start the frame, but recorded a groundout and consecutive strikeouts to end the contest.

The Pirates resume Conference USA action this weekend with a three-game series against second-place UAB (21-13, 7-2 C-USA). Due to Easter on Sunday, the teams play a doubleheader Friday at 5:00 p.m. and complete the set Saturday with a 1:00 p.m. contest.

Post-Game Notes
-- Sophomore Jordan Lewis extended her hitting streak to a career-high 10 games with a home run to left center in the first inning. The run is also the longest by a Pirate this season.
-- Lewis’ long ball in the opening frame was the first extra-base hit by the Pirates since a double during game two of last Wednesday’s doubleheader at UNC Wilmington.
-- It was also East Carolina’s first home run since senior Suzanne Riggs hit one March 18 at Tulsa, a span of eight games.
-- Lewis took over the team RBI lead and now has 24 this season.
-- Junior Kai Clark recorded two hits and has six in her last three games.
-- The Pirates have dropped three straight to the Wolfpack after winning five consecutive contests.
-- East Carolina falls to 3-11 in road games this season.
-- The nine strikeouts by ECU were the most by the squad since nine at North Carolina on March 13.


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