RALEIGH, NC – On a night of overwhelming positivity for NC State baseball with a 12-3 win over East Carolina, Elliott Avent had to pass along some unfortunate news for the Pack9 following the game. Sam Highfill, the Wolfpack’s ace heading into the season, is officially out for the year following an injury that has caused him to miss the last several series for NC State.
Avent confirmed the news on Tuesday evening ahead of a weekend series against Radford.
“When you lose a guy like Sam Highfill for the year, everybody says next man up. It’s not that simple, ”said head coach Elliott Avent. “It might be next man up when you’re out in the jungle or trying to win a fight and it’s all you’ve got. It’s hard to say that when you lose a guy like Sam Highfill for the season. It’s not just next man up. That’s a valuable guy… A lot of guys have stepped up. ”
NC State officials confirmed the news following the game that Highfill will miss the remainder of the season due to an undisclosed injury.
It’s a huge blow for the Pack9, but one that seemed to be coming for a while now. After starting six games over the course of the first nine weeks of the season, Highfill labored through two short outings against Georgia Tech and Clemson before he was all but shut down after April 3.
Highfill compiled a 1-1 record with a 5.53 ERA and had 29 strikeouts through 27.2 innings pitched, but was not his normal self from last year after putting together one of the best postseasons ever for an NC State starting pitcher. Coming off a rough start against Georgia Tech in his last Friday start on March 25, Avent was unsure at that point what the rest of the season would hold for Highfill.
“We had a lot of moving pieces, but the one thing that always made us comfortable was the 1-2 [punch] of [Matt] Willadsen and Sam Highfill, “Avent said.” He came to me, he said, ‘Coach I’m ready. And not only am I ready, I want to go Friday night. ‘ You can obviously tell he’s not Sam Highfill. “
NC State has worked around the Highfill injury to this point with Logan Whitaker and Canaan Silver being inserted in the rotation and Willadsen settling in, but not having Highfill will still be a big factor down the stretch. After he went 9-2 with a 3.66 ERA and 84 strikeouts and 93.1 innings pitched last season – including four straight postseason wins – the Pack9 still has some work to do to recreate the magic it had to close out last year.
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