Current Date: Wed, 19 Jun 2013 09:50:15 -0400
The No. 23 North Carolina softball team had no trouble putting bat to ball this weekend at the Aggie Classic.
But stringing together enough hits to bring runners home proved more difficult for the Tar Heels (7-5), who left College Station, Texas, with a 2-3 record.
While the Tar Heels were able to finish the weekend strong with a 4-2 win against Pittsburgh, they dropped both of their games against No. 11 Texas A&M and one of their two games against Stephen F. Austin State.
During the games, North Carolina coach Donna Papa felt that close calls played a large role in the Tar Heels’ fate.
“It’s a game of inches,” Papa said. “Those couple of games against Texas A&M there was some inches — a home run and a fair ball versus a foul ball — and in those situations, those were critical. Those were the game changers, really.”
But while the intangibles might have favored UNC’s opponents, North Carolina didn’t do much to help out its own cause when it could. In the three losses, the Tar Heels managed 23 hits but failed to capitalize on many of them, notching only three RBI while leaving 26 runners on base.
Papa said the team’s bats were obviously working, yet it was unable to exploit its openings.
“The biggest thing going forward in some of these games is we’ve got to find a way to finish,” Papa said. “And also put more runs on the board and keep putting runs on the board. We have the hitters, it’s a matter of putting it together.”
First baseman Constance Orr said she believes the Tar Heels have struggled to find a lineup that works consistently.
“We have a young lineup, we have like two or three freshmen starting,” Orr said. “Once everybody gets comfortable with themselves we’ll be good.”
Papa said games this early in the season allow teams to experiment with which lineup will best suit the team later on.
“This part of the season, you’re still trying to figure out who’s going to get it done for you,” Papa said.
For the Tar Heels thus far, that’s been junior pitcher Lori Spingola, who tied her career high with 14 strikeouts in the win against Pittsburgh Sunday and notched 25 in three games.
While the Tar Heel pitching has been strong, Spingola agreed that the lost opportunities on offense were costly to the Tar Heels.
“I thought we did a pretty decent job, we just didn’t come through when we needed to, when we had runners on bases,” Spingola said. “(Texas A&M) had a few opportunities to score, and they came through and scored. It could have gone either way, but they came out on top in the end.”
But at the end of the weekend, Papa came out with one thing on her mind.
“We played solid all the way around, and now it’s just finishing,” Papa said. “Being able to finish is huge, and that’s what it’s going to take for us to go where we want to go.”
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