UNC softball springs back from losses

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Senior Haleigh Dickey hit at two-run homer in the first game of the Tar Heels’ doubleheader wins against N.C. Central Tuesday.

The North Carolina softball team’s spring break may have been unconventional, but players did have one thing in common with some of their peers — they got burned.

After being outscored 31-15 in a 1-4 week, UNC needed a break, and defeating North Carolina Central in five innings twice at home Tuesday night was the perfect opportunity for the Tar Heels to spring back into action.

“We had a rough spring break, and games like these are good for confidence and kind of tweaking everything before we go into bigger weekends like this weekend against FSU,” senior Haleigh Dickey said.

UNC started both games out with swift strikes on offense. The Tar Heels scored five runs in the first two innings of the first game, a 9-0 rout of the Eagles.

In the second game’s slightly more contested 10-2 win, North Carolina was still able to bring nine runs across the plate in the first two innings.

Dickey said the quick pace the Tar Heels had at the onset of the games offered a good opportunity for depth development.

“Scoring early in the games gives everyone a chance to get in the game,” Dickey said. “Coach (Donna Papa) is very good at substituting people in, giving people chances, and it just makes it more fun for the whole team to be involved.”

All but two of the 23 players on the team’s roster saw action during the doubleheader, and the team managed 19 runs on 20 hits from 43 at-bats.

But the games didn’t just offer experience for more players than usual.

“This just totally is good for confidence,” Dickey said. “We need it every now and then to just go out there and be able to cream somebody.”

Sophomore Kati Causey, who was three-for-three with two RBIs in the second game, said confidence gained against weaker opponents could play a key role in matchups with stronger teams.

“We just have to work on keeping our confidence up and making sure we can maintain our focus when we have tougher competition,” Causey said.

The Tar Heels are undefeated at home, and Papa viewed the quick stop back in Chapel Hill before a road trip to Tallahassee, Fla., to face Florida State as a good time for UNC to get collected between tougher opponents.

“We have a comfort zone at home and we tend to play well at home,” Papa said. “It gives us a lot of energy going into the weekend.”

For Papa, the momentum was a product of improved performance by the Tar Heels in their homestand.

“I think we did a better job today with being more patient and looking for more pitches,” Papa said.

The Tar Heels have three games against FSU this weekend and are looking to capitalize on their recent strong performances at home.

But Papa realizes that the Tar Heels can’t let their success go to their heads.

“Anything can happen,” Papa said. “You just have to have the right mindset and be able to really go out there and fight for every at-bat and every out.”

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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