A pair of controversial calls in the final frame left several Tar Heels furious. With one out in the bottom of the inning, Charlotte redshirt sophomore Lexi Betancourt hit a ground ball to UNC first baseman Jenna Kelly. It appeared that Kelly tagged first in time, but Betancourt was called safe.
“I tagged first, and she (Betancourt) was clearly out,” Kelly said. “They called her safe, so whatever.”
Batten managed to strike out the next batter, giving Charlotte its second out. If Betancourt had been called out at first base on the previous play, the strikeout would have been its third, and UNC would have won the game 3-2.
However, Betancourt was not called out, and the game continued.
Later in the inning, with the score tied at three runs apiece and runners on second and third, Charlotte’s Jackie Kleinsmith hit another ground ball to Tar Heel shortstop Kristen Brown.
While fielding the ball, Brown was run into by a Charlotte baserunner. By rule, if an umpire judges that a runner unintentionally interferes with a fielder attempting to field a ball in fair or foul territory, then the runner is out.
The baserunner was not called out, and a Charlotte player scored from third, giving the 49ers their game-winning run.
Kelly is one of the Tar Heels who believed the officials missed calls that ultimately cost the team the game.
“The umpire just ignored the interference call, and that should’ve ended it,” she said. “If those two plays are called right, we win the game.”
Coach Donna Papa was unavailable for comment after the conclusion of the game.
After a scoreless first inning, Kelly was able to put the Tar Heels in control in the second inning with her ninth home run of the season. Junior Stephanie Krider also scored in the inning to extend UNC’s lead to two.
“I love when we can get out to an early lead, so (hitting the home run) was great,” Kelly said. “It takes the pressure off our pitchers, so it was good.”
UNC didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning when Charlotte scored its first run. The 49ers managed to even the score at two runs in the following inning.
The Tar Heels went up by one run in their last at-bat before giving up two to Charlotte in the final frame.
It seemed as though the Tar Heels were hitting their stride after winning seven of eight games, but the team has now lost four in a row heading into this weekend’s series at conference opponent Virginia.
Batten is confident that the Tar Heels can get back to their winning ways, but it’s going to take the right mindset for them to do so.
“We just have to go into each and every game here on out without overthinking it,” she said. “We need to go into the game and just play it. Not going to the mound or into the batter’s box and overthinking, just going out there and doing what we know how to do.”