It wasn't the way UNC (36-13) had won its games the majority of the year, but in the postseason, with so much on the line, the Tar Heels were just happy they'd live to play another day.
"I'll take it any way I can," said Coach Donna Papa. "I'm just happy … it's survive and advance, especially at this point in the season."
Out of the gate, it looked like things would mirror North Carolina's long-ball style of play. In the bottom of the first, senior Amber Parrish belted her 18th home run of the season over the left-field wall to put the Tar Heels in front 2-0.
But as play wore on, it was the UNC defense that proved to be the team's saving grace. In the top of the second with one out, North Carolina's Kaylee Carlson walked consecutive batters to set up a possible scoring chance for the Hokies (34-21). But the next batter would hit a ground ball to Wike at second, who promptly tagged one runner and threw the ball to first for the inning-ending double play.
After the game, Carlson praised her teammates for helping pick up after her on defense.
"When I do walk the two batters or give up a couple hits together, it makes me feel so much more calm out there knowing that my defense can get me out of it," she said. "Being able to trust my defense just makes everything so much easier on me."
Carlson and the Tar Heel defense were able to hold Virginia Tech scoreless until the bottom of the fifth, where, after two consecutive hits, Kylie McGoldrick doubled off of the center-field wall to knot the score at two.
The Tar Heels would grab the winning run in the sixth from the illegal pitch, but the seventh inning was not without drama. Carlson would give up a two-out single to give the Hokies life but was able to settle down and strike out Virginia Tech's Michelle Prong to end the game.
With the win, the Tar Heels advanced to the ACC Championship semifinals, but they know there were much bigger things at stake. The Tar Heels will likely need to win at least one more game to possibly grab an NCAA Tournament berth, something that is ever present in the minds of both players and coaches.
"I think we have something to prove more so than anything," Parrish said. "We've had a phenomenal season, and just showing people what we have and coming out here and winning the ACC Tournament so they can't even question us in the NCAA Tournament is what we need to do."