North Carolina softball Coach Donna Papa knew exactly how the final half-inning would unfold. Before the Tar Heels’ last at-bat of Wednesday’s home opener against Western Carolina, Papa huddled the team in the dugout.
“Here’s what’s going to happen,” Papa told her players with surprising conviction, given the scoreless tie and UNC’s offensive struggles until then. “Kiwi’s gonna get on, Amber’s gonna move her and then Kristen or Jenna is gonna score her.”
And then it happened, almost precisely as Papa had just explained. Aquilla Mateen — Kiwi, to her teammates and coach — got on, with a leadoff double. Amber Parrish laid down a bunt to advance Mateen to third base. Then Kristen Brown waved Mateen home on a wild pitch in the dirt. And just like that, the Tar Heels walked off with a 1-0 win against the Catamounts.
“Sometimes it just works out that way,” Papa said, smiling, after the game.
And sometimes not. Papa knows, because it didn’t work out so easily for the Tar Heels during the first six innings. Despite putting runners in scoring position on numerous occasions, UNC struggled all game to push runs across the plate.