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The Daily Tar Heel

Softball bounces back with sweep of Virginia

Heading into its weekend series against ACC foe Virginia, the North Carolina softball team was facing signs of its earlier season — a losing streak.  

After losing four games in a row, including suffering their first series sweep by No. 9 Florida State , the Tar Heels were struggling to find a way to stop the bleeding.

“Anytime you lose a few games in a row it can be hard to bounce back,” freshman Kendra Lynch said. “But we never give up.”

The Tar Heels' resiliency proved to be the bandage they were looking for.

UNC (21-16, 12-5 ACC) swept the series with Virginia (4-32, 1-16 ACC ) and discovered that the key to halting its losing streak at four was to do something it has been working hard to do all season: put together a strong performance in all phases of the game.

“At points in the season we’ve struggled to put all cylinders of our game together, but this weekend I thought the girls did a fantastic job in all aspects,” coach Donna Papa said. “Our hitting was great, our pitchers did a great job, and defensively we were very solid. We really put it together this weekend.”

Papa said while she believes the team has been excelling defensively this season, its performances at the plate and in the circle have been slightly less consistent. She said the patience and focus the hitters and pitchers displayed in their performances this weekend shows signs of good things to come.

“(Our performance) infused us with a little more excitement and confidence,” Papa said. “We proved to ourselves that when we play smart and do all the little things, we can beat anybody.”

The Tar Heels posted two shutouts over the weekend, taking games one and two 7-0 and 3-1, respectively, before finishing out the series sweep with an 8-0 victory in game three on Sunday .

UNC combined for 19 hits on the weekend, three of which were home runs.

Redshirt sophomore Jenna Kelly , who had four of the Tar Heels' hits including a grand slam in game one , said her team’s selflessness and drive to work together made the difference for them at the plate this weekend.

“I think we have a lot to be proud of,” Kelly said. “We were disciplined at the plate, and my teammates at the top of the lineup did the little things to get on base, which allowed the middle of the lineup to do their job and drive them in.

“We worked together, and we executed. We had a great weekend.”

Lynch combined with pitchers Lori Spingola and Lauren Batten to limit Virginia to one run on 12 hits in three games while striking out nine Cavaliers.

“We were a lot more focused on keeping the ball down,” Papa said. “In the 19 innings we played, I think we only had one or two lead-off batters get on, and that was huge.

“This weekend gave us a lot of confidence. We’re getting back into who we are.”

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