While the temperature outside is getting colder, the North Carolina softball team's bats are heating up — as the team demonstrated its offensive firepower in a doubleheader against UNC-Greensboro Sunday.
UNC won the first game 8-3 but lost the second 9-7 at Forsyth Country Day School in Lewisville.
“We had some really solid offensive performances,” coach Donna Papa said. “We attacked the ball really well.”
Papa singled out senior first baseman Lauren Walker and junior shortstop Kristen Brown as players who really impressed her offensively.
“(Walker has) really come up big for us,” Papa said. “She is recognizing pitches better and hitting better for us.”
Brown went 2-for-3 with five RBIs in the first game. She said she noticed what the opposing pitchers tended to throw and anticipated those pitches when she was at-bat.
“I went up to the plate with a good mindset,” she said.
Defensively, the Tar Heels played well with the exception of a lapse in the second game that ultimately led to their defeat. UNC led 7-4 before UNC-G took the lead with five runs in the sixth inning. The Tar Heels committed only one total error in both games.
The defense played well in support of the pitchers, Papa said.
“We had a lot of good defensive moments at the right time,” she said. “Brown was outstanding defensively; she made some ESPN plays.”
Any defensive struggles might be due to the May 2014 graduation of star pitcher Lori Spingola. Instead of one star pitcher, Papa is relying on a rotation of four pitchers, two of whom are freshmen.
“Both of our freshmen are doing a really good job every time they go out there,” Walker said.
Papa acknowledged that the freshmen face a steep learning curve, but she is pleased with the positives she has seen so far.
“They have to work out some scenarios,” she said. “I think they’re doing a really nice job and I think, come spring, they’ll be really significant for us.”
Players said one focus of fall ball is to build team chemistry and gain valuable practice time before the season begins in the spring.
“These games gave us a chance to work out our confidence and play with a lot of swag,” Brown said.
According to Walker, the team gained a lot of confidence from its solid offensive performance against UNC-Greensboro.
“I’m pleased with the progress we’re making and the direction we’re going right now,” Papa said. “Overall, I thought they were two really solid games.”
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