Entering Saturday's doubleheader against ACC rival Virginia, the Tar Heels had lost nine of the 13 contests this season that were decided by two runs or less, many of those losses at the hands of top competition.
Against the Cavaliers at Finley Field, UNC alleviated the problem in the first game, prevailing 2-1 in nine innings in its ACC opener.
However, the Tar Heels failed to fully correct the problem in game two, playing to a scoreless tie through six complete innings when a downpour halted the action.
The contest was to be resumed at 8 a.m. Sunday, but the overnight rains forced it to be postponed.
The Tar Heels (22-13-1) showed grit in their ACC opener against the Cavaliers (30-9), showing what they learned from tough play at the KIA Classic in Fullerton, Calif. during spring break.
"Mentally, I think we were stronger," UNC coach Donna Papa said. "Our trip out West helped us with the level of competition. Even though we lost, we were even with some top teams for most of the games, and that has helped us prepare for our ACC games."
Ironically, a prime scoring chance for UNC was dampened even before Mother Nature arrived to spoil the party.
After Tar Heel Rosie Gustavson reached on an error, bunt singles by shortstop Michelle Semmes and Natalie Anter loaded the bases with no outs.
Virginia coach Cheryl Sprangel removed pitcher Erin Allinder and replaced her with Kristen Dennis, who struck out seven Tar Heels in game one.
The move paid huge dividends for UVa., as Dennis induced a line out, pop out and ground out to end the threat.
"It was really frustrating; we had everyone up," Anter said. "We had the best hitters up. I really wished we could have scored."
The opening game of the twin bill was the type of grinding, defensive showdown one can expect in the ACC.
UNC jumped on the board in the first. Anter's RBI double to left center scored Gustavson and gave UNC a 1-0 lead.
The Cavaliers answered in the top of the sixth inning. Dennis hit a single up the middle to score Kelly McCabe, tying the game at one apiece.
Neither team could score again, and the contest moved into extra innings.
Anter led off the ninth with a single, and Emily Price whacked a double to put runners on second and third.
After Olen reached on an infield single to load the bases, designated player Carrie Bates smashed a hopping grounder to third baseman Ruby Rojas, who was unable to field the ball cleanly. Anter slid into home as the winning run.
UNC and Virginia plan to finish the second game during the week of April 9.
"We know we can beat these teams," Anter said. "I think the other teams have had easier schedules, and we are proving to the other ACC teams we can still play."
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