The Hokies grabbed the lead early, taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Lead-off hitter Lauren Gaskill slapped a single just far enough in front of third-baseman Dickey to make it to first. She advanced on a sacrifice bunt from Kylie McGoldrick and was brought home by a deep single to center field from Kelsey Mericka.
UNC tied the game in the second inning when pinch-hitter Amber Parrish hit a scorching RBI single through the left side of the infield. Tisha Mahon, pinch-running for Constance Orr, had stolen second and third bases and scored easily.
But when Virginia Tech answered with another two runs in the top of the third, it was clear who was running the show.
“Both days we were coming from behind, and I don’t like to play like that,” Papa said. “We just kind of let them control the game from the beginning, and momentum and things like that. I just think we’re better than what we showed today.”
Virginia Tech’s first three batters in the third loaded the bases, and Spingola walked the fourth, scoring the Hokies’ second run. Mericka hit a sacrifice fly to left to bring in the third. Papa admitted her sophomore ace didn’t have a great day on the mound, but didn’t blame her for the loss.
“I think (Spingola) was average today,” Papa said. “But it’s a lot on a pitcher. When your team isn’t scoring behind you, you really have to pitch almost perfect. They didn’t give her a lot of opportunities to relax.”
In the bottom of the sixth inning, UNC still trailed, 4-1. Ally Blake led off, and reached first on a walk. Dickey then singled to left for UNC’s first hit since the second inning. Both advanced on a passed ball. At this point, with no outs and runners on second and third, UNC had a chance to make something happen. But Harrell mowed down three out of the next four Tar Heel batters, intentionally walking Orr to load the bases. In the seventh, the Tar Heels went down in four at-bats, ending their shot at their first ACC tournament title since 2001.
“I was very confident in our hitters because we’ve come back,” Papa said. “We’ve been in those situations before and handled it, and come back. So I was pretty confident about it. … But we didn’t get anything out of that inning. That’s deflating, after that. That was our inning if we were going to do anything.”