That was the message Jordan tried to deliver Sunday, and for all intents and purposes, it worked.
UNC (23-17, 10-11 ACC) defeated Virginia, 4-2, fending off the country’s No. 1 team, thanks to a two-run home run from junior shortstop Michael Russell in the fifth that broke a 1-1 tie.
It was the first lead for UNC in a tightly contested series, and the Tar Heels didn’t relinquish it.
“We just need to go out there and have fun and play the game,” said freshman second baseman Wood Myers after the win. “I definitely think (Jordan’s speech) helped us. It helped us calm down. It’s a little different hearing it from him than it is hearing it from a coach.”
Jordan said he had noticed his teammates dwelling too much on the wins and losses, putting too much pressure on themselves to carry the team. It’s a product of being young.
“It’s hard making that transition to your freshman year playing, especially when you’re playing a lot for a younger team, and we haven’t had as much success this year as we’re used to,” Jordan said. “So it’s hard to take on criticism and stuff like that when you’re not playing as well as you’re capable of.”
With a 1-2 weekend, the Tar Heels didn’t do themselves any favors in the Coastal Division standings, but they also left Virginia (33-7, 16-5) with a confidence boost for going toe-to-toe with an elite foe, coach Mike Fox said.
Maybe Sunday’s win will help UNC get over the hump. Maybe it won’t. Regardless, Jordan’s speech might have helped usher in a refreshed mindset.
“It’s the kind of the mentality you have,” Russell said. “I’m trying to do the best I can, but if you’re not leading the way, maybe Wood Myers will have three hits. There are a lot of guys who can step up.”
On Sunday, it was Parks Jordan — before the game — who took the stand.