Sports, Spring, Softball

Eagles Lose Momentum, Split Doubleheader With NC State

After a layoff of nearly a full year, NC State came out in its season opener—the first game of a doubleheader with Boston College—lethargic at the plate. BC capitalized, holding the Wolfpack offense without a run in the first 11 innings of their season, thanks to a complete-game shutout by Susannah Anderson in the early meeting and four strong innings from CC Cook to begin the second game of the doubleheader. The Eagles were rolling, riding a wave of immaculate defense and timely hitting, until a costly error in game two shook the Eagles’ focus.

Cook, BC’s starter in the circle for game two of the doubleheader, was dominant through four innings of work. With a 3-0 lead, maintaining pinpoint command of her pitches and the defense holding steady behind her, Cook appeared ready to shift into the final gear and finish off the Wolfpack. Through two outs in the fifth inning, the Eagles remained firmly in control, as Cook had just sat down Sam Russ, NC State’s leadoff hitter and table setter, with a fly ball into shallow right field. 

Then, on a 2-1 count, Tatyana Forbes, the Wolfpack’s representative on the Preseason All-ACC Team, grounded a chopper to BC second baseman Nicole Giery. Giery transitioned the ball smoothly to her right hand and flipped it backhand to shortstop Djhane Valido. But Giery’s flip went high, just out of Valido’s reach, allowing Sam Gress to reach second on the error. 

Cook returned to the circle and tried to paint a fastball on the outside corner on her next pitch, but it caught too much of the plate. Angie Rizzi connected, driving the game-tying blast onto the roof of the batting cages beyond center field, tying the game at 3-3. The Wolfpack (1-1, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) went on to tack on three more unanswered runs, finishing with a come-from-behind 6-3 victory over BC (2-4, 1-1) to split the doubleheader.

The Eagles failed to answer in the bottom of the fifth, stranding Valido on second after she rocketed a double down the right-field line. Cook returned to the circle for the top of the sixth and gave up consecutive hits—a single to Randi Farricker and a double to pinch hitter Logan Morris. On a 2-2 count, Gress hit a sacrifice fly to shallow left field, and Farricker scored. Valido was forced to throw off her back foot, and her throw arrived at home a split second late, making the score 4-3. 

Russ, an All-ACC Second Team selection in 2019, then stepped up, sporting an uncharacteristic 0-3 day at the plate. Cook dialed up a middle-in fastball to open the count, and Russ’ lefty stroke came out on top. She crushed a flyball deep into the trees in right field, putting the Wolfpack up 6-3, a lead they didn’t relinquish. Abby Trahan, NC State’s reliever for starter Sydney Nester, sat the Eagles down in short order in the bottom of the sixth and seventh innings to secure the win for the Wolfpack.

Game one, on the other hand, was a duel between Trahan and Anderson. Each team managed four hits apiece, with Gianna Boccagno’s rocket home run over the left-center fence proving to be the difference in the game. 

Trahan, who transferred from St. Francis to Southern Mississippi before making her way to Raleigh, made her much-anticipated debut for the Wolfpack. Seeing her first action in almost two years due to her redshirt last season, Trahan moved quickly through her first inning but ran into a standoff of an at-bat in the top of the second. 

After Emme Martinez lined out to Farricker, Boccagno stepped into the batter’s box. Boccagno went down 0-2 early, fouling off three pitches to begin the at-bat. After taking ball one outside, Boccagno fouled three more pitches off. She worked the count to 3-2, fouled one more off, and on the 11th pitch of the at-bat, went yard to left-center field, touching home after her trot around the bases for the only run of the ballgame. Trahan bounced back to finish five relatively stress-free innings, and Nester relieved her in the sixth.

Anderson was nothing short of dominant in her outing on Wednesday. Pitching a complete-game shutout—the ninth of her career—Anderson was completely in control. The Wolfpack offense left a staggering amount of 14 runners on base, but the combination of Anderson’s swagger and the finesse of the defense left no doubt as to who would prevail each inning. Valido and Giery, the Eagles’ middle infield duo, combined for eight defensive outs. Valido showcased her arm on cross-diamond throws, and Giery made a couple of diving highlight plays to save hits.

Images Courtesy of BC Athletics

February 18, 2021