However, East Carolina quickly answered back with a solo home run blasted to the scoreboard by left fielder Suzanne Riggs.
Following a scoreless bottom of the fourth and entire fifth inning, North Carolina held only a one-run lead going into the top of the sixth.
It was then that the Tar Heels faced their biggest scare of the night — a game-tying solo home run hit to left center field by East Carolina first baseman Priscilla Velasquez.
Fortunately for the Tar Heels, the bat of sophomore catcher Logan Foulks came through in the clutch.
After the Heels started off the top of the inning with a double to right center by outfielder Kelli Wheeler, Foulks crushed a ball down the right field line to give North Carolina a commanding 4-2 lead.
“I was just looking to put the ball in play and score (the runner) from second,” Foulks said.
This much-needed hit came shortly after East Carolina pitcher Sarah Christian called her catcher to the mound in the middle of Foulks’ at bat, allowing Papa to have a short word with her player on the third base line.
“I told her to have fun, try not to think, relax, and rip a pitch,” Papa said.
“She has been clutch for us the last couple of weeks and was able to deliver for us tonight, which was huge.”
North Carolina sealed the 4-2 victory in the top of the seventh inning with a caught ECU pop fly in left field following a ground out, and starting pitcher Lori Spingola’s ninth strikeout of the game.
“I think the key (to getting out of jams and winning tonight) was definitely our offense’s ability to get some clutch hits,” Spingola said. “And just being positive and staying strong to make fundamental plays on defense.”
For Papa, tonight’s win against the Pirates was essential in terms of getting back on track after the Citrus and Long Beach classics, especially given the road her team faces ahead.
“We really needed to have a good start because we play Elon tomorrow and then open up in the ACC this weekend,” she said. “So this is kind of a thing that’s going to propel us through the week.”
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