North Carolina pitcher Lori Spingola battled back from a tough start and tossed her second no-hitter of the season in Wednesday’s 8-0 win against South Carolina.
Spingola found herself in an unusual situation in the first inning. The ACC leader in strikeouts and wins was faced with a bases-loaded situation after walking two Gamecocks and hitting another with a pitch.
“I started getting behind and throwing balls,” she said. “I thought that the pitches were in good spots, but that he just wasn’t calling them. I just tried to stay positive, put it past me and throw strikes.”
Throw strikes she did, forcing USC’s Dana Hathorn to strike out swinging and getting Kaitlin Westfall looking to end the first inning and leave three Gamecocks stranded on base.
After Spingola got out of the jam, a four-run first inning for UNC gave her a cushion that allowed her to never look back.
“It was definitely a lot easier mentally seeing the runs on the board,” she said. “Knowing that my team was behind me, it made a huge difference in my confidence level.”
Despite the struggles Spingola faced in the first inning, her game plan for the second inning was no different than the one she used in the first.
“I tried to keep going after the corners and not give in to his strike zone,” she said. “If I gave in, they might start getting the hits.”
Spingola stuck to her strategy and pitched a one-two-three second inning by striking out the side. From that point on, the game was hers to control. She threw eight strikeouts en route to a mercy-rule no-hitter through five innings.
Coach Donna Papa was impressed with Spingola’s performance, especially considering the fact that it was a midweek game.
“Midweek games are a little bit tougher,” she said. “The girls have a lot more distractions with school and all that. For Lori to come out and pitch a game like that in the middle of the week was something special.”
Spingola improved her record to 16-6 on the season. She is now tied for second in the nation in victories, trailing only Teagan Gerhart of Stanford.
Spingola was happy to turn in such a strong performance, and thinks that its effects will carry forward into this weekend’s series against Maryland.
“I think that this game definitely boosted my confidence, and I think that we’re definitely going to have a good weekend.”
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