UNC takes rubber match from Tech

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UNC senior Constance Orr positions herself to slap down a tag at third base. Orr hit two home runs and drove in four RBIs Monday.

The North Carolina softball team is used to playing under pressure.

But this was a different type of pressure.

Against Georgia Tech in the rubber game of a three-game series, the Tar Heels were not only facing the pressure of needing to take the series — they were also playing in front of a televised audience on ESPNU.

And they didn’t disappoint.

UNC defeated the Yellow Jackets 11-6 on Monday night to take the series.

“This win means a ton to us,” starting pitcher Lori Spingola said. “It gives our team so much confidence. Just knowing we have that fight in us is just amazing for our team.”

After starting off hot with three runs in the bottom of the first inning, the Tar Heels (36-16, 12-6 ACC) quickly found themselves behind after Georgia Tech (22-26, 7-8) put five runs on the board in the top of the third, sending 10 hitters to the plate.

The big inning has caused the Tar Heels trouble during the past several games.

“Those innings have been a problem,” coach Donna Papa said. “The bottom line is, Lori needs some rest, and we don’t have that opportunity to get her a lot of rest, so we’re going to have to battle through that.”

Papa said that although the big innings have been an issue for her team as of late, its solid defense and ability to match teams run-for-run will help it overcome that.

Despite quickly relinquishing their early lead, the Tar Heels continued to prove that theirs is a game of patience, key hitting and striving under pressure.

In the bottom of the sixth inning with no outs and the bases loaded, pinch hitter Kati Causey stepped up to the plate.

Causey found herself in a similar situation Sunday, when she was called in to pinch hit with two outs in the bottom of the seventh and blasted a two-run home run to bring UNC within three.

This time, Causey proved yet again that she could handle the pressure.

She sent a rocket past the third baseman for a two-run double, and helped the Tar Heels grab a 6-5 lead that they would not relinquish.

“I just try to take it like any other situation,” Causey said. “My job as a pinch hitter is just to get a base hit and move the runners. Tonight, I just went up there and did what I do best.”

Papa said she believes that Causey’s hit gave UNC the momentum it needed to put away the Yellow Jackets.

“Kati came up big,” she said. “Hitting is a lot of momentum, and once somebody like her starts to do something, it kind of just goes.”

Spingola said that even though the Tar Heels have struggled to come back in games this year, this one was going to be different.

“Knowing our hitters have been doing so well lately, I think we were all pretty optimistic about coming back.

“There’s always pressure, but this time it was a good type of pressure.”

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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