The Wolfpacker

January 2018

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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82 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY MATT CARTER F ifth-year softball coach Shawn Rychcik has been anticipating this freshman class for a while. The six- player recruiting haul that arrived this fall was ranked No. 19 nationally by Bolstering the newcomers was the addition of a pair of sophomore transfers — pitcher Devin Wallace from Coastal Carolina and outfielder Angie Rizzi from LIU Brooklyn. Rychcik was mixing those eight addi- tions with a group of returnees that includes seven position players who started at least 27 of the team's 56 games a season ago. It can be a challenge getting everybody on the same page, but Rychcik feels his team emerged from the fall with a tight bond. "A lot of credit to the upperclassmen and a lot of credit to the underclassmen that there really hasn't been much of a chal- lenge," the coach said. "It could have been a little bit of a butting heads with the different sizes in classes and the thought processes that go along with each one, but I think they've meshed pretty well. That's become one of our strengths — our team chemistry and unity that they came out of this fall with. "It's important that we are not chasing that in the spring, that we are not trying to get along, trying to mesh. That's already been accomplished, and now we are just trying to work on the field to be better." Rychcik's high expectations for the new- comers have been met, he said. He noted that the overall athleticism of the team has been increased with their additions. ■ PREVIEW SOFTBALL Sophomore outfielder Jade Caraway set a single-season school record with her .389 batting average a year ago and was named second-team All-ACC. PHOTO BY LARRY BLANKENSHIP ■ Key Games • ACC/B1G Challenge in Raleigh, Feb. 16-18: The Pack will host back-to-back two-game series against Ohio State and Northwestern. • At UNC, April 13-16: The annual rivalry showdown will take place in Chapel Hill this season. The Heels reached the ACC title game a year ago. • Vs. Florida State, May 4-6: The last regular-season series will feature the defending ACC champions coming to Raleigh. Three Players To Watch Junior first baseman Cheyenne Balzer She started all 56 games at first base as a sopho- more and hit .267 with six home runs, a team- leading nine doubles and 26 runs batted in. Balzer has the most returning round-trippers on the team. Sophomore outfielder Jade Caraway As a rookie, Caraway led NC State with a .389 batting average, a new single-season school record, and her 72 hits were 16 more than anyone else on the squad. She also stole 12 of 13 bases and had a team-high .444 on-base percentage. She was named second-team All-ACC. Senior infielder Alyssa Compton Compton is a versatile infielder and a returning three-year starter. She started all 60 games at sec- ond base as a freshman, and as a junior she was the shortstop for each of the 56 contests. That ability to play multiple positions comes in handy while head coach Shawn Rychcik looks for the right combina- tion on the infield. GOOD CHEMISTRY A Strong Group Of Newcomers Have Meshed Well With The Returnees

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