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The Daily Tar Heel

Bats come through for UNC softball team

Carolina softball vs. Penn State
Carolina softball vs. Penn State

North Carolina’s softball team has finally begun to find its rhythm.

After struggling to get timely hits with runners in scoring position during the past few games, the Tar Heels (10-5) were able to use patience at the plate, aggression on the base paths and a bit of small ball to finish at the top of the annual Carolina Classic with a record of 3-0.

The Tar Heels began the tournament with a 4-0 victory against North Dakota State, featuring a no-hit pitching performance by junior Lori Spingola.

Though rain canceled Saturday’s game against Iowa State, UNC continued its success on Sunday with a 6-2 win against Iona and a 10-2 win against Penn State.

“I think this last game that we played was really good in the respect that we had a lot of people contribute hitting-wise,” coach Donna Papa said. “I think a lot of girls did a great job up at the plate in that game — several were two-for-three. I just thought we did some great things.”

That started with patience at the plate. UNC drew 11 walks on the weekend, several of which it was able to convert into runs.

“Lately, our hitting coach has been making us emphasize taking balls and strikes and pitch recognition, so I think doing that during the week in practice really helped,” freshman Jenna Kelly said. “We didn’t chase anything up to bat, we only swung at strikes, and that resulted in the pitcher walking a lot of us. It gave us more opportunities to score, and we capitalized on a lot of them.”

The Tar Heels were also able to use aggressiveness on the base paths to their advantage this weekend. With six steals and several advanced base runners on passed balls, the team was able to break a habit of leaving runners on base.

“We definitely need to keep our patience at the plate and our aggressiveness on the base paths up as a whole,” Kelly said. “As long as we just continue to be aggressive up at the plate and our pitching stays strong, we will be successful.”

And during the long weekend, freshman Erin Satterfield said it was important to keep the energy up in the dugout to keep the hits coming.

“All of our coaches try to make us reward ourselves and cheer for the little things that we do throughout the games and practices and all that, so that really helps us keep going,” Satterfield said. “When there’s not big, exciting things going on you have to make sure that those little things are what keep you moving forward.”

Papa said she believes that if the Tar Heels continue to take things one pitch at a time, moving forward is exactly what they will do.

“We just tell the girls all the time, and I know this sounds cliche and a lot of people talk about it, but really one pitch (at a time),” Papa said. “There were still things we could have done better, but we’re definitely making progress in the right direction.”

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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