Current Date: Fri, 07 Mar 2014 09:07:42 -0500
The North Carolina softball team traded snowy Chapel Hill for the warm rays and sunshine of Florida this weekend as it traveled to Jacksonville for a three-game tournament.
The Tar Heels went 1-2 on the weekend , with Saturday’s afternoon win against No. 23 Louisville being the highlight of the trip.
Louisville broke a scoreless tie by putting two runs on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Tar Heels responded in the top of the sixth when junior catcher/designated hitter Kati Causey sent a two-run blast over the wall in left field to tie the game at 2-2.
After keeping the Cardinals scoreless in the bottom half of the sixth, UNC added two more runs in the top of the seventh inning to take a 4-2 lead.
That’s all the Tar Heels would need, as freshman pitcher Lauren Batten threw a scoreless final two innings to seal the win for her team and record her first career save.
“We were all really excited to get out and play against a really good team. We were pumped, the weather was amazing and we just came out explosive,” Causey said.
Batten gave up only a single hit in the sixth and seventh innings and said that getting her first career save was a product of her hard work.
“It was definitely a confidence builder. It’s something I’ve been working with mentally and physically all fall to get prepared for the long season, so to see it transfer into a game was overwhelming,” she said. “It was exciting to see it put into play and work as a positive for our team.”
Batten hoped that the timely hitting and execution would continue throughout the weekend, but after taking care of the Cardinals it seemed as if the Tar Heels’ bats went back to icy Chapel Hill.
In Saturday’s second game, UNC took on host Jacksonville University . Dolphins’ pitcher Cecile Gomez kept the Tar Heels very quiet at the plate, giving up only one run on three hits in seven innings.
UNC managed to avoid the shutout by scoring a run in the top of the seventh inning, but it proved to be too little as the Tar Heels took a 3-1 loss.
Sunday offered the Tar Heels an opportunity at payback, as they again took on Jacksonville for the final game of the weekend.
UNC faced a different Dolphin pitcher in the circle, but saw almost an identical day at the plate.
This time it was Victoria Brown, who shut down the Tar Heel bats, throwing a complete-game shutout in which UNC managed just three hits for the second straight game.
Coach Donna Papa was pleased with UNC’s defense throughout the weekend and said Jacksonville’s pitching wasn’t overpowering, her athletes just had trouble executing.
“They threw a lot of off-speed stuff that we either grounded out, popped up, or hit right at people,” she said.
The Tar Heels’ 2-5 start isn’t what the team or Papa expected after two weekends of play, but Papa thinks her team is ready to get over the hump.
“We’re right there. The way I’m looking at going forward is making the Fullerton game a new season,” she said.
“Some of it is execution and being aggressive and just going out there and not over trying or overthinking.”