Madison Knight’s no-hitter propels Syracuse softball over NC State
Madison Knight's no-hitter propels Syracuse softball over NC State
History was made at Skytop Softball Stadium as freshman pitcher Madison Knight tossed the Orange’s first no-hitter since 2018, and eleventh in program history.
Syracuse softball (12-18-1, 3-10-1 ACC) won its first conference series of 2023. The Orange defeated NC State in the opener on Thursday and in the rubber match Saturday to win a conference series for the first time since May 7, 2022.
“I have been saying that kid is a special kid and we have not even tapped into the potential of what she is going to be for this program, both offensively and defensively,” Orange head coach Shannon Doepking said of Knight. “It is really, really good to see her start to figure some things out.”
The series got underway on Thursday as the Orange started the opener scoring four unanswered. The Wolfpack got two back, but it was too little too late as the Orange won 4-2.
“The only thing we talked about with some of the leaders today was just our presence of showing up and competing, we needed to be better with that,” Doepking said. “We did it on Thursday when we showed up, we knew how important it was.”
It was the Wolfpack’s turn to open the scoring on Friday as they plated the first three runs of the game. The Orange bats finally woke up in the sixth inning as they left runners on second and third before plating two in the seventh. But Syracuse would come up short, dropping the contest 3-2.
“We were not on time. When we were on time, we were not hitting balls really hard, (causing) routine plays,” Doepking said. “I think we need to just do a better job of figuring out what we need to do to get on time a little bit sooner than the seventh inning.”
The third game was where the Orange bats truly came alive, recording two runs in both the first and third innings and bringing four across home plate in the second. Syracuse led 8-0 going into the fourth, bringing the run rule into play.
“At this point, every game is super important and…obviously we were up and then we were down, then we are up and then we are down, and we have been down for a while, so I think some of it is, hopefully, some things starting to click for us,” Doepking said.
The Orange successfully mercy ruled the Wolfpack on the back of Knight’s no-hitter, the first in Doepking’s tenure and the first for the Orange since 2018. Though graduate student pitcher Ariana Adams carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning in last year’s ACC tournament.
“That’s insane. It’s absolutely insane. I could not have done it without the team behind me, the coach’s support, the teammates support and everybody. It is just awesome it just happened,” Knight said.
Knight’s no-hitter wasn’t the only piece of stellar pitching in this series as she pitched six innings, allowing just one run in the seventh on Thursday, and junior pitcher Lindsey Hendrix conceded four runs in her eight innings of work across Thursday and Friday.
“I think she (Hendrix) threw well. She had six hits, five hits. She really did not get hit hard. She responded really, really well to the home runs,” Doepking said Friday postgame. “I think she did everything possible to give us a chance to win that ball game.”
Freshman outfielder Madelyn Lopez had six hits in the series and was just a double short of hitting for the cycle on Saturday. Sophomore first baseman Tessa Galipeau also had a strong series with five hits.
“Honestly it has been see ball, hit ball and today the ball was much bigger than yesterday,” Lopez said postgame Saturday. “Personally, I have not been wanting to get into deep counts, so I go for the first pitch.”
With Saturday’s win the Orange moved to No. 10 in the ACC, which is the last ACC tournament spot. The Orange have qualified for every ACC tournament contested since Doepking became the head coach in 2018 and won their first game last year.
“We are just trying to take it day by day,” Doepking said. “I am not getting too far ahead of ourselves. We are going to enjoy this one, enjoy Easter tomorrow and then obviously get ready for UNC next week.”
Next up, the Orange travel to the UAlbany with a Wednesday doubleheader at UAlbany Field. First pitch is at 2 p.m. with the second game scheduled for 4 p.m.
After that, the Orange have a three-game weekend series with North Carolina for the first time since the fateful sweep last year that sent the Orange to the ACC tournament.