The Wolfpacker

January 2017

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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78 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY MATT CARTER N C State head softball coach Shawn Rychcik experienced instant success during his first three years at the helm. The Pack won the ACC title in year one, reached the NCAA Regional final his first two years and advanced to a Super Regional — which is the last round before the Women's College World Series — in year three. Year four, however, did not go as planned. NC State stumbled to a 23‑33 record, Rychcik's first losing season in 12 overall years as a head coach, eight at Bos‑ ton University and four in Raleigh. Luck was not on the Wolfpack's side. Two of the three pitchers battled injuries, putting all the pressure on the shoulders of the now‑departed Courtney Mirabella with little other options to turn to outside some former high school pitchers who were play‑ ing in the field. The result was that the Pack had a 5.06 earned run average, negating a potent of‑ fense that hit 72 home runs and scored five runs a game. Rychcik's first task this offseason was to change the culture from last year. "We had some things we needed to change, and we've done a good job with it," Rychcik said. "The kids have been re‑ ceptive to it." Yet there will still be challenges ahead for the Wolfpack, and in a different area now. NCSU's lineup is shorthanded after two players, Hanna Sommer and Hannah Yeager, were lost with injuries and a third, Meredith Burroughs, transferred. Sommer and Yeager combined to start 90 games last year and hit 13 home runs with 38 RBI. Burroughs, meanwhile, started every game and hit 13 round‑trippers, which was second to Ross. Recruiting in softball is handled years in advance, and finding a quick replacement is a difficult task. "When you have the injuries and the transfer, those players aren't replaced," he noted. "There is no immediate replacement for it, it's just development and hopefully experience and people get their opportunity and run with it." ■ PREVIEW SOFTBALL FACING A CHALLENGE The Wolfpack Looks To Bounce Back From A Down Season Against A Tough Non-Conference Schedule Senior outfielder Tyler Ross was tabbed second-team All-ACC last year after setting single-season school records for runs scored (55) and stolen bases (27). PHOTO BY LARRY BLANKENSHIP

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