“I thought game one that we didn’t make good adjustments at the plate, and we were just
very, very average,” coach Donna Papa said. “Game two, I thought we came out and we competed like we know we can compete, and it’s just unfortunate that we didn’t win the sixth and seventh innings.”
In the first inning against Notre Dame, UNC gave up two runsand failed to adjust defensively
in what turned into a one-sided battle quickly. The team as a whole managed just one hit in the game to Notre Dame’s 12, and with the Fighting Irish leaving eight runners on base, the score easily could have been more lopsided than 6-0.
The second game, however, gave the Tar Heels a chance to redeem themselves and play up
to their potential. Pitcher Kendra Lynch led the defense to three quick outs in the top of the first inning,setting the stage for UNC to take control early.
And for the first time all afternoon, the Tar Heels responded. With two outs in the bottom of the first, shortstop Kristen
Brown stepped up to the plate and smashed the ball far over the left field fence for a quick 1-0 lead.
“I had a clear mind and was just taking hacks because I know I can do it, so I went up there, took a nice cut, saw the inside pitch, and I drove it over the fence," she said.
“I thought, ‘We’re going to do this, this is our game.’ It felt good.”
The momentum for the Tar Heels could not be stopped. In the second inning, catcher
squeezed the ball out of the park for another solo home run, giving UNC a 2-0 advantage.
First baseman Jenna Kelly’s defensive effort kept UNC ahead through the fourth inning,
when Parrish’s second homer of the game — this time a two-run shot — gave the Tar Heels the 4-1 edge. Then, despite a Notre Dame homer in the top of the fifth, Brown came back in the bottom of the inning and answered with her second home run of the afternoon, pushing the lead to 6-4.
“In the first game, Notre Dame never got to see how we really play, so the fact that
we got up and had the momentum was great,” said Kelly.
For the Tar Heels, though, the fifth inning was their peak. After giving up three runs in the top of the fifth, UNC gave up seven runs in the final two innings while failing to score anymore itself, netting the team another loss, this time 11-6.
A frustrated team and a head coach left searching for answers.
“We didn’t do the things it takes to win and close out a game when we worked so hard
against a top 25 team,” Papa said.
“I wouldn’t ever be upset with my team if we hadn’t worked on it, but I’m upset because
we’ve worked on those things, and at this point in the season, you have to have the poise to be able to handle those situations.”