The dinger — Parrish’s fifth of the week — came in the third inning of Sunday’s series finale against Georgia Tech. It helped the Tar Heels (31-10, 13-3 ACC) complete a three-game sweep of the Yellow Jackets and stay neck and neck with Florida State for first place in the ACC.
Of all the ways to score a run a home run is the quickest. It just takes one pitch, one swing regardless of the situation. The Tar Heels know that, they hit two long balls in Game 1 and three in Game 3 on their way to lopsided wins. But UNC won in other ways, too — taking Game 2’s pitcher’s duel 1-0 without recording a single hit.
“People are going to play us differently each game, and since we’re sitting at the top of the ACC, we know that every team is going to give us their best,” Parrish said. “We knew the second game was going to be harder than the first, but we also knew that we can do different things to get a win when we need to.”
In the inning before Parrish’s shot in Game 3, UNC demonstrated its ability to plate runs methodically as opposed to one foul swoop.
First baseman Jenna Kelly reached base first after drawing a walk. After the umpire called strike two, Kelly looked back incredulously, and Coach Donna Papa threw her arms up in disbelief. But then Kelly fouled off pitch after pitch until she watched ball four sail high.
“I remember getting a lot of pitches,” Kelly said. “I was just trying to swing at anything close because the umpire was a little iffy, he called one that was in the dirt. But finally the pitcher threw one that was over my head, so I just let it go.”
Two walks later, UNC had the bases loaded with one out. Georgia Tech’s pitcher wiped her brow and took a deep breath.
But UNC’s Darby Rosen missed her chance to capitalize, popping up to the shortstop for out No. 2 and prompting Papa to hurl the gum from her mouth over the fence in frustration.
But once again, UNC refused to go down easily. With two outs, left fielder Jordan Scarboro hit a sharp ground ball to the shortstop, who misplayed it, allowing Kelly to trot home.
In some ways, the runs scored by Parrish and Kelly were polar opposites. Parrish’s was the result of one powerful swing. Kelly’s was the result of a Georgia Tech error. Parrish’s came out of nowhere with no runners on base. Kelly’s was the culmination of scrappy at-bats. Parrish’s was quick and efficient. Kelly’s, slow and methodical.
Most importantly, UNC proved it can win the slugfest, and it can win the pitcher’s duel.
“It’s really hard to beat somebody three times, so I’m really proud of our team,” said Papa on Sunday. “As of (Saturday) night, we were tied for first place in the ACC, so we told the girls how important it is to take care of our own business and control our own destiny.”