Current Date: Mon, 10 Mar 2014 05:51:33 -0400
For one moment in the North Carolina softball team’s 11-6 win Monday night, the fans in Anderson Stadium were dead silent. The next, they exploded into an uproar of heckles aimed at the game’s umpire.
It was the bottom of the fourth inning, and the Tar Heels were trailing Georgia Tech 5-3.
After a slap shot over third base, Elisha Elliott was standing on first when Kristen Brown sent a shot to right-center on a full count.
At second, Elliott was waved on and continued to third as the Georgia Tech outfielders scrambled for a ball that seemed set on avoiding them — rattling along the outfield wall.
But when she passed third, Elliott briefly hesitated.
“I was rounding third, and I saw that the ball was definitely going to beat me there,” Elliott said.
But instead of retreating to third base, Elliott took a gamble.
“I felt like I really needed to really slide hard into her and possibly knock the ball out,” she said.
Sprinting full-speed down the line, Elliott dropped into a feet-first slide and slammed hard into Courtney Ziese — the Yellow Jackets’ catcher.
Ziese had ended the previous inning by holding onto a throw from right field to apply the tag to Jenna Kelly.
But as Ziese fell over and Elliott stretched her foot under the catcher to make contact with home plate, the umpire pumped his fist and called an out.
Coach Donna Papa pleaded with him to discuss the call with the other umpires, and even though the umpire said he was confident, further prodding by Papa convinced him to confer with his cohorts.
Further deliberation ensued, and the umpires came to a conclusion: The call was overturned.
Elliott’s high-velocity skid into home had accomplished its mission by being enough of a jolt to knock the ball from Ziese’s glove.
“I didn’t know the ball had gotten loose, so I originally thought I was out. But I’m glad it came out,” Elliott said with a laugh.
The newly verified run pulled the Tar Heels within one run, and after a five-run outburst in the fifth inning, North Carolina held on for an 11-6 win.
“We have a sign that goes into our dugout that says ‘How tough are you?’,” Papa said. “I feel like we’re being tough.”
If you ask Courtney Ziese, she’d probably agree.
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