“Oh my gosh, that was fantastic,” said Coach Donna Papa, still exuberant from the grand slam hours before. “She hit it dead center. It was so exciting. That was phenomenal.”
Coming into the game, UNC needed just one win to clinch the second seed in the ACC Tournament. And while the Tar Heels dropped the second game 17-9, the team was perfectly content handing Notre Dame its first home loss of the year.
“We knew that we had to win one of the two games today,” Wike said. “Everyone came out and really wanted to win, and it showed.”
Even when the second game appeared out of hand, UNC fought back.
The Fighting Irish opened the game with three straight hits to spark a 10-run first inning. But the Tar Heels answered in the second with five runs of their own, challenging Notre Dame at every opportunity.
“I just told them to act like there was no score and that we would kind of show our character by how we approached our at-bats,” Papa said. “We never died.”
Nobody put their competitiveness on display more than Wike, who finished the first game with four hits in as many at-bats and added two more in the second game.
“I’m not really sure (what changed),” said Wike, who had been struggling as of late. “Today I just stuck to the plan like my coach was telling me to, and it finally worked out.”
But her coach was hardly surprised by the performance of the freshman phenom, who closed the regular season with a team-high .451 batting average.
“She’s one of the best – definitely the best freshman I’ve ever had come in and definitely one of the best players,” Papa said. “You never see any kind of worry in her when she’s in any situation. That’s a fun thing to see in a first year player.
“Her future is very, very bright.”
Led by the consistent hitting of Wike and the power of junior Kristen Brown – UNC’s single-season and career home run leader – the Tar Heels are optimistic about their chances in the upcoming ACC Tournament.
“Our plans are to go into the ACC Tournament one game at a time, one pitch at a time, and (win the tournament),” Brown said. “Ever since the first practice of our season, we knew that was our number one goal, and we’re not going to stop until we reach our goal.
“We’re going to come out champions.”