The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday August 15th

UNC softball struggles in opening weekend

It was a weekend of close — but not close enough — for the North Carolina softball team.

In UNC’s season-opening weekend in Lafayette, La., the Tar Heels dropped three of four games in the Louisiana Classic.

In Friday’s opening game of the season, the Tar Heels battled back and forth with Northern Iowa. After taking an early 5-2 lead, the Panthers scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to go ahead.

Redshirt sophomore first baseman Jenna Kelly tied the game at 7-7 in the sixth inning after sending her first home run of the season over the center-field wall. Northern Iowa responded in its half of the sixth, scoring the deciding run on a Tar Heel error to win 8-7.

Coach Donna Papa said it was disappointing to play so hard and come out with a loss.

“It’s tough when you lose a game where you have 12 hits and three home runs,” Papa said. “It was kind of a backbreaker to start the season.”

But the Tar Heels had no time to think about the loss to the Panthers. Just 20 minutes after their game, they were back on the field, this time versus No. 10 Texas.

The bats weren’t as hot against the Longhorns. The Tar Heels finally got on the scoreboard in the sixth inning, but it was too little, too late as Texas got the 7-3 win.

The Tar Heels got their first win of the season Saturday morning in a 3-2 win against Purdue.

After taking the loss against Northern Iowa, senior pitcher Lori Spingola got back to her All-ACC form, throwing all seven innings and giving up just two runs and seven hits.

“On Friday I came out strong in the first two innings and was competing well, but over the next few innings I wasn’t competing,” Spingola said. “Going into the second day I realized I really had to fight better for my team, go in there and trust my pitches more, and I think I did that today.”

After securing the season’s first win, the Tar Heels were right back on the field to face tournament host and No. 13 Louisiana-Lafayette.

The Tar Heels and Ragin’ Cajuns went back and forth all afternoon, trading the lead multiple times before Louisiana-Lafayette tied it 5-5 in the seventh inning. The Tar Heels had runners on first and second but failed to manufacture a run, sending the game into extra innings.

The Cajuns sent a solo shot out to center in the 10th that would prove to be the game-winning run.

The extra-inning loss marked the end of a tough weekend for the Tar Heels, but Papa said she isn’t discouraged.

“It’s a long season. We’ve got to enjoy the journey and just take it one game at a time,” she said. “We can’t look far ahead. We just want to try and make it a one-game season every time we play and not worry about our next opponent.”

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