The 28-year coach said that on Friday, while the Tar Heels may have done a good job in getting runners on base, their opponents made the most of their opportunities.
“We didn’t finish, and they did,” Papa said. “That was really the difference.”
But the losses Friday motivated UNC for the rest of the weekend.
“We just came back Saturday with a purpose,” senior outfielder Tisha Mahon said. “We’re going to forget about yesterday and just really move forward.”
North Carolina faced Purdue in the first game Saturday, which was pushed into extra innings when the Boilermakers tied the game at one in the 7th inning.
In extra innings, Mahon advanced freshman Erin Satterfield to second base, and then junior Amy Nece drove a ball to right field for a walk-off double.
The Tar Heels second game of the day was not as tight as the first — UNC blew out Hampton University 10-0.
“We just told the girls, ‘Be confident in how we’ve prepared and just relax and be who you are, because we haven’t seen who you are yet,’” Papa said.
North Carolina closed up the weekend with a rematch against LSU, and the team had better luck with the Tigers this time.
“LSU is definitely a great team and I think the first game, it went their way — everything went their way,” junior pitcher Lori Spingola said. “So I think our second game we came back with a vengeance.”
The Tigers gained an early 1-0 lead, but UNC did not allow a repeat of Friday’s game and responded with a three-run sixth inning and took the game 3-1.
“The girls really wanted this win against LSU, and it was big for our program for sure,” Papa said.
While North Carolina was able to bounce back Saturday and Sunday, Papa believes that the tournament was a good opportunity to discover what areas the team needs to work on.
“We still need to be tough, mentally tougher, in some situations,” Papa said. “That’s one of the things we’ve been working on. That was something that we didn’t do as well last year. But sometimes it takes a couple of breaks here and there for you to push over that edge and get to where you need to be.”
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