Part of that response was a solo home run from Wheeler herself in the bottom of the fifth inning. With that shot to center field, the senior took hold of the North Carolina career home run record. It was her 35th as a Tar Heel.
But Wheeler wasn’t the only Tar Heel swinging for the fences.
Entering the bottom of the third inning in game one, the score was tied, 1-1. Entering the top of the fourth, UNC led 12-1. Five home runs, including a grand slam from pinch-hitter Megan Morrison, put Hampton on its heels. Haleigh Dickey hit home runs in both of her at-bats in the inning, and Logan Foulks and Wheeler each contributed solo homers.
“I was just really relaxed coming into today, honestly,” Dickey said. “Just laughing before the game, and relaxed. I was also seeing (the ball) well, which helped.”
In game two, Hampton initially seemed the better-composed team. Hampton’s Margaret Wilkins hit an RBI single to bring the Lady Pirates’ first run across, and with two runners on base, Shine Huwe hit her second home run of the day.
In the bottom of the third, UNC pulled ahead, 5-4. Dickey hit a sacrifice fly to the center field wall, and Constance Orr hit her team’s second grand slam that afternoon.
It was Wheeler’s record-breaking home run that gave UNC the spread they needed to end the game. That shot was preceded by a three-run homer from Orr, which accounted for her UNC record-tying seventh RBI.
“With the hitting, it’s definitely a contagious thing,” Wheeler said. “Once one or two of us hit a home run, we definitely feed off each other. They come in bunches.”
But her team’s focus was what most impressed Papa. Coming back from a four-run deficit three innings deep isn’t something she said she takes for granted.
“Last year we lost some midweek games that really hurt us for regionals,” Papa said.
“The kids that were there last year know how that felt. We were determined not to let that happen and it really encouraged them to be focused.”
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