Brittany Pickett, UNC’s unquestioned ace, entered this weekend’s series against Virginia having been named the ACC Pitcher of the Week for her strong performances against USC Upstate and Notre Dame.
Against the Cavaliers, the sophomore did not disappoint. Pickett earned the win in both of UNC’s victories against Virginia. In the series opener on Friday, she threw her 17th complete game of the season and was dominant in doing so. In six innings of work, Pickett allowed just five baserunners, as she struck out eight while surrendering only three hits.
In UNC’s 11-7 win in extra innings on Saturday, the Cavaliers found more success against Pickett, but her durability proved to be key for UNC.
The Cavaliers were able to get nine hits off of Pickett and drew four walks, but ultimately came up short against her when it counted the most.
After UNC plated four runs in the top of the eighth to take an 11-7 lead, Pickett closed the door on Virginia in the bottom of the inning to secure the win.
Through 32 appearances on the mound, 20 of which have been starts, Pickett holds a 2.32 ERA in 187.1 innings of work and has a 17-5 record. No other Tar Heel pitcher has an ERA lower than 4.94.
In UNC’s lone loss of the weekend, Pickett did not pitch, as first-year Hannah Todd started and took the loss after failing to recording a single out, giving up three runs in the process.
Dray has big day
First-year Megan Dray had been struggling at the plate, but she put together an impressive offensive display on Saturday for the Tar Heels.
Despite hitting a mere .125 before Saturday’s double-header, the Lynchburg, Virginia native hit a combined 5-7 between the two games, driving in four runs while also walking once.
In the Tar Heels’ 11-7 win, Dray had RBI singles in the the fourth and seventh innings. But it was in the top of the eighth where she really made an impact, hitting a triple to right field that plated two baserunners to put the Tar Heels ahead by four.
In UNC’s 10-5 loss, Dray went 1-2 with a single.
After her productive Saturday, Dray is now hitting .200.
Tough road stretch nearly complete
What makes UNC’s recent good form impressive is that most of it has taken place away from home.
After this weekend’s three-game tilt against Virginia, the Tar Heels have now played nine consecutive away games, seven of which have been wins.
On the season, UNC is 8-4 in away games.
“We've been on the road for nine games now and have only lost twice,” UNC head coach Donna Papa told GoHeels.com. “We're road warriors, but we're looking forward to getting back home next week."
UNC will close its 10-game road swing at UNC-Wilmington on Tuesday before returning to Anderson Stadium on Wednesday to host UNC-Greensboro.
Following the trip to Wilmington, nine of UNC’s next 10 games will be at home.
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