However, the Yellow Jackets, who were celebrating their senior day on Saturday, had other plans. They swept the doubleheader, beating the Tar Heels 6-2 and 9-6.
“It’s discouraging,” coach Donna Papa said. “There’s always a new day, and you always have to have hope ... but today was really a disappointment.”
After the Yellow Jackets took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning in the first game, the Tar Heels answered right back to tie the game at one run in the top of the second .
That’s when Kylie Kleinschmidt began to find her rhythm.
The Yellow Jacket ace was on fire in the first game, retiring 10 straight UNC batters from the second to the fifth inning .
“I thought (Georgia Tech’s) defense was stellar,” freshman pitcher Kendra Lynch said. “We put the ball hard in play a lot, but they just made the plays.”
Georgia Tech took advantage of UNC’s stagnant offense and opened up the game in the fourth inning. With two outs, the Yellow Jackets hit two triples and scored three runs to take a 4-1 lead .
The Tar Heels managed to get one run back in the sixth inning on an RBI single from redshirt sophomore Jenna Kelly.
They had a chance to narrow the deficit even further with no outs and runners on first and third, but a strikeout and a hit into a double play ended their scoring chances.
Because of the shorter base paths, double plays occur much less often in softball than in baseball. Coming into the weekend, the Tar Heels had not hit into a double play all season. In their first game against Georgia Tech on Saturday, they hit into two in two consecutive innings
“(Georgia Tech) made some good plays, so you have to give them credit,” Papa said. “They had people on base, they got it done. We had bases loaded in a couple of innings, we had opportunities to break it open early, and we didn’t get it done.”
The Tar Heels just couldn’t get anything to go their way in the first game, and the Yellow Jackets scored two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning before winning the game 6-2.
Despite a tough showing in game one, UNC was determined to turn things around and take the second game.
Early on, it seemed like the Tar Heels were on pace to do just that.
Sophomore shortstop Kristen Brown , who had struggled in the first game, started the second 2-for-2 with an RBI double and a grand slam .
“Our energy was up, and we were confident,” Brown said about the team’s mood early in the game. “We were seeing the ball really well.”
Redshirt junior Jordan Scarboro blasted another home run in the top of the third inning, driving in two runs and bringing the score to 6-0.
With a comfortable lead, it appeared that the Tar Heels would be able to cruise to victory.
Again, the Yellow Jackets had other plans.
They exploded in the bottom of the third inning, driving in seven runs on six hits, including a grand slam of their own to take the lead.
The Tar Heels exited the inning completely deflated. Their comfortable six-run lead was gone, and they would not lead again. They did not record a hit in the final three innings of the game, and Georgia Tech went on to score two more runs in the fifth inning en route to a 9-6 victory .
Papa said that though the team has had its share of struggles this season, she has never had to question the effort put forth by her players.
“It’s not for lack of trying,” Papa said about her team’s losses. “It’s not like we’ve given up or we’re throwing our hands in the air. But we definitely lack consistency, and there are just a couple of missing pieces right now.”
However, Papa said that despite recent setbacks, she believes the Tar Heels still control their own destiny.
“We need to fight in our remaining ACC games to make sure that we’re in the ACC Tournament,” she said. “Once we’re in it, you never know. Look at Connecticut, the men’s (basketball) team. Who would’ve thought they would win the national championship?
“If you have a good weekend, then hey, you can do a lot of good things. But we have to get ourselves there.”