Donna Papa has the same message for her team each time.
“It’s a game of inches.”
But for her and her North Carolina softball team, the ruler was in favor of visiting No. 6 Alabama (39-8) on Friday night. In front of a record-shattering crowd of 2,048 fans inside Anderson Stadium, the Crimson Tide held off the upset-hungry Tar Heels (22-23) to hand UNC a 4-3 loss.
Alabama wasted no time showing why it’s one of the best softball programs in the country, hitting back-to-back home runs in the top of the first inning to take an early 3-0 lead. But the Tar Heels refused to give up that easily.
UNC answered with two runs of its own in the bottom of the first inning. After loading the bases with no outs, The Tar Heels got on the board thanks to an RBI single from redshirt sophomore first baseman Jenna Kelly. Junior catcher Amber Parrish followed with a line drive to left field that looked like it could produce multiple runs but had to settle for an RBI sacrifice fly after an impressive diving catch from Crimson Tide left fielder Kallie Kase.