“I didn’t really get to contribute much at the plate today,” Wheeler said. “I was having a little off day there, so it was nice to feel like I contributed in that way.”
Wheeler was named to the All-ACC Tournament team for the 2010 and 2011 seasons and was named to the All-ACC second team in 2011. She led the Tar Heels in hitting last season with a .369 batting average and holds the school record for career home runs.
Wheeler’s record-breaking 35th home run came in the fifth inning in Thursday night’s second game against Hampton.
Fellow senior Blake, who was specifically honored last weekend, also contributed an unassisted double play in the second game to help sophomore pitcher Sara Buchholz and the Tar Heels out of a bases-loaded situation when they were down 2-0.
“Our seniors are all people who contribute to our lineup offensively and defensively,” coach Donna Papa said. “You saw just the type of arm that (Kelli) has from that last play. We’re very blessed to have an outfielder who can throw like she can.”
“They pitched around Kelli today and Ally made a big difference for us today at bat.”
Green, the second baseman, maintains that the senior class’ approach comes from mindset and not from strong game play alone.
“I think our seniors are huge in helping us stay focused, stay calm. Kelsey is probably one of the best defensive players that we have,” Papa said. “I feel like she keeps the infield very calm and focused.”
Green’s .982 fielding percentage, 66 assists and 41 outs in 2011 reflect the pressure she takes off the defense. But she also tries to relax the team in the way she leads.
“We’re playing right now not really with any pressure,” Green said. “It’s one of the things I think we bring to all the younger girls.
“We’re going out there with our last couple of days and just having fun. Everybody’s kind of seen that we’re not as pressing as (seniors) have been in the past, and I think it’s kind of catching on.”
For Papa, the leaders are a force in both how they play, and in the examples they set.
“All three of (the seniors) are very significant in our lineup, off the field and on, and I’m very proud of how they’ve led our team,” Papa said. “Especially the last 12 games. We’ve been undefeated and it just seems like everything is going our way.”
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