Tar Heel softball bounces back in series finale

Things couldn’t have gone much worse Saturday as the North Carolina softball team was annihilated by Maryland in both games of a doubleheader in College Park.

But on Sunday, the Tar Heels rebounded with an 8-1 victory to close out the series and their regular season.

“(On Sunday) The girls finally put together offense, defense, and pitching and played like we have been playing all year,” said coach Donna Papa, who with Sunday’s victory closes out her 28th season as head coach of the Tar Heels.

North Carolina ace Lori Spingola, who pitched in two of the three games this weekend, led the Tar Heels impressive defensive effort on Sunday, striking out six and only allowing one run, but gave up 11 hits in a 9-4 loss in game one.

“The first game I feel like I started out really strong and then I started getting behind on my hitters and they started scoring off me with some big hits,” Spingola said after notching her 28th win of the season. “(Saturday) obviously wasn’t too good of a day for us. We didn’t have a lot of things going well for us so it felt great to bounce back and get the win.”

Despite a lack of runs in the first two games, both Spingola and Papa said that the losses weren’t due to a lack of offense, but rather a series of missed opportunities.

“We had the lead in both games, and to Maryland’s credit they answered back,” Papa said. “We couldn’t hold a lead and they hit us very well.”

“We had opportunities with runners on and couldn’t make it happen for us. They scored big in a couple innings.”

Sophomore Amber Parish started the scoring barrage on Sunday with a two-run home run in the first inning that got things going for previously stagnant UNC offense.

“It helped the momentum,” she said. “It was just a chain reaction one person after another.”

The Tar Heels finished out the 2013 season at 38-18 overall and 13-8 in ACC play with Sunday’s win.

Papa believes her team is certainly talented enough to make a deep run in the ACC Tournament, which takes place May 9-11 in Tallahassee.

Spingola agreed with her coach, but UNC will need more consistency on offense in order to compete in Tallahassee.

“We just need to sharpen up a few things, rest, and get a lot of practice in,” Spingola said.

Luckily for the Tar Heels, Papa emphasized the “rest” aspect of the preparation, giving her team Monday-Wednesday off during finals week, as well as the weekend.

North Carolina could wind up being the second, third or fourth seed in the tournament, according to Papa, depending on how a couple games play out this weekend across the conference.

In the meantime, however, the Tar Heels are reveling in ending the season on a high note, despite the debacle on Saturday.

“It’s a great way for us to go into exams and into the ACC tournament,” Papa said. “We definitely finished on a very strong note after a disappointing day yesterday.”

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