North Carolina set for ?nal home series of the season

The North Carolina softball team is preparing for a critical series against visiting team Georgia Tech (20-24, 6-6 ACC) this weekend.

After dropping two of three games to N.C. State this past weekend, the Tar Heels, the ACC pre-season favorites, are finding it a bit harder to live up to their reputation.

“I feel like we kind of shot ourselves in the foot there a little bit in trying to win the regular season,” coach Donna Papa said.
The Tar Heels (34-15, 10-5 ACC) are three games behind Florida State in the conference standings with six conference games remaining in the schedule.

But senior Haleigh Dickey says the Tar Heels are staying confident.
“N.C. State was definitely a blunder along the way,” Dickey said.
“But I think that our win against ECU (Wednesday) is giving us momentum for the weekend.”

Dickey was referring to UNC’s 8-0 dismantling of the Pirates,
in which she had five RBIs.

She said she expects the Tar Heels to have another offensive showcase against the Yellow Jackets, but believes the visitors will put up more of a fight.

“Georgia Tech has very hittable pitchers,” Dickey said. “But they also have a very strong offensive team. So we have to be able to do the little things on offense as well to be able to stay ahead of them.”

Senior Constance Orr said if both teams have no shortage of offensive power, North Carolina will still have an edge over its opponent.

“I think we’ll come out on top,” Orr said. “Because our pitcher is more dominant than theirs.”

Orr is, of course, talking about North Carolina’s junior ace Lori Spingola, who is 24-11 this season and has been the Tar Heels’ go-to pitcher in vital games.

While the series is important for the team to secure its standing in the division, it holds value for Dickey and Orr in another way as well. Sunday is the Tar Heels’ Senior Day and the beginning of the team’s last home series this season.

“I can’t even wrap my mind around it yet.” Dickey said. “It probably won’t hit me until that game on Monday night. This is it. Of course you want to go out with a bang.”

To avoid fizzling out in the waning regular season, the Tar Heels will need Dickey and Orr — and their team-leading 34 and 42 RBIs, respectively — to pull out what they expect to be a close matchup with Georgia Tech.

“At this part of the season, it’s grinding and finding,” Papa said.
“Grind it out, find a way to win. That’s kind of the motto you have to take.”

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