And in their confusion, the second baseman was nowhere to be found, prompting Mateen to claim the next base as well.
“The third baseman wasn’t playing me too far in, so I just laid the bunt down,” said Mateen, who entered the game tied for third in the ACC in hits and fourth in batting average. “And then they didn’t cover second, so I took second.
“I was just working with what they gave me.”
The dazed Virginia Tech infield had just given the Tar Heels their fifth run of the inning, granting UNC a 6-1 lead that would stand as final for the night’s first game.
“We’ve been working a lot at just putting the ball in play, doing your job,” Papa said. “Our mentality was to attack early in the count and make sure that we did our job moving runners.”
In the third inning of the team’s second game, Mateen once again found herself at the plate with two runners in scoring position.
And once again, she left the Hokies in a wake of confusion.
The junior speedster placed another bunt just beneath her feet and dashed down the first base line, her teammates following her lead. When the Virginia Tech pitcher threatened to toss the ball back home, the other two baserunners returned to their posts.
But the pitcher never threw the ball — not even to first.
“I’m not sure (what happened),” said Mateen, a sly and unassuming grin on her face. “I just put it down and ran. I guess she didn’t know what to do with the ball, but I’ll take advantage of what they give me.”
Mateen’s sorcery came one at-bat before junior teammate Kristen Brown knocked in two runs with a double to deep left, sparking yet another five-run inning for the Tar Heels — who went on to win 9-5.
“It’s definitely a confidence builder for us,” said freshman Taylor Wike, who leads off just ahead of Mateen. “If they’re nervous or not knowing what to do, that means we’re doing our job.”
The team’s leading hitter, who was batting .452 on the year coming into Monday's doubleheader, would have scored in the breakout third inning as well — if she hadn’t tried to steal home.
“I thought I was in there,” said a disappointed Mateen, who was tagged out in a home plate collision. “But I always think I’m safe.”
That seemed to be the case Monday, as Mateen’s aggressive attack led to inexplicable results on the basepaths.
But Papa was hardly surprised with the success of her players' short game.
“She’s got great speed and she has a great touch on the ball,” Papa said. “Even though they know she’s going to bunt, she can still do it successfully because she has a great touch (and) she has a lot of confidence.”
Mateen’s confidence was infectious, leading her teammates to the offensive explosion that they had so eagerly anticipated.
“We were kind of like caged animals ready to get out and unleash,” Papa said. “They definitely did that.”