Coach Donna Papa said the team’s poise during the game was crucial for getting back on top.
“I thought we had really good composure at the plate,” Papa said. “I never felt a sense that we were pressing or panicked or anything like that.”
But UNC-Charlotte (6-4) didn’t give up easily either. A solo home run in the third and two runs in the fifth inning got the 49ers close late in the game, but a key pitching change sealed the win for the Tar Heels.
To start the sixth inning, junior Ashley Bone took over for junior Lori Spingola, who had recorded nine strikeouts and given up five earned runs in five innings. The score was 8-6 in favor of North Carolina.
Bone and Papa both said a change in pitchers commonly slows down a team that had just gotten used to the previous pitcher.
The 49ers tested that theory in the fourth inning of the game when UNC-Charlotte put Chelsea Lisikatos on the mound. UNC had scored two runs in each inning prior to the pitching change and two runners had already crossed home in the fourth, but no further Tar Heels scored in the game after Lisikatos came in.
But Bone allowed just two hits in the two innings she pitched and gave up no runs to record her first save of the season.
“I thought we definitely did what we were supposed to do,” Bone said. “I knew when I had to come in, I had to do my job, so I did my best.”
Papa said UNC-Charlotte’s pitching and defense are the weaker aspects of its game, so hitting takes precedence, but the 49ers high-risk-high-reward offense was enough to give UNC a scare.
“They’re an all or nothing team,” Papa said. “They swing it, and some of their swings aren’t really pretty, but a lot of times they put the bat on the ball.”
Though UNC gave up a few long balls and the lead early in the game, Bone said the team’s defense has been proving reliable as of late.
“The team is definitely coming together,” Bone said. “We’ve always had pretty solid defense, we’ve faltered every once in a while but this game we were pretty solid.”
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