“Syd tonight was the best that she’s been all season,” Coach Donna Papa said. “She came in and she was all business.”
Fortified by Matzko’s pitching and stellar defense by two-time All-ACC first-team shortstop Kristen Brown, the Tar Heels (3-4) turned their focus to the plate.
Brown led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a solo home run to right field — marking UNC’s first hit of the game against Letourneau — to draw within a run of the Wildcats.
“I was just trying to stay focused,” Brown said. “I knew that the next pitch was going to come to me.”
After Matzko pitched a scoreless seventh inning, first-year Berlynne Delamora led off the bottom of the inning with a solo home run to center field, tying the game at 2 with her first career home run.
Four batters later, with two runners on and two outs, Fuller worked back from an 0-2 count before hammering the game’s last pitch over the right field fence for a walk-off three-run home run, giving the Tar Heels a 5-2 win in their home opener.
“Everyone got on base and did their job in front of me.” Fuller said, “So that’s what matters.”
As for whether she knew the ball was gone as soon as she hit it, Fuller did not mince words.
“Yeah,” she said, laughing. “That one I knew.”
“It just shows our heart. We’re in it until the last pitch.” — Brown on the importance of earning a come-from-behind win.
With her home run in the sixth inning, Brown took sole possession of seventh place on the ACC career home run list, passing N.C. State’s Jen Chamberlin. The solo shot was Brown’s 50th in her career and her third this season. The all-time ACC home run mark is 65, which is held by N.C. State’s Renada Davis.
Three numbers that matter
5: Five first-years started in the field for the Tar Heels.
20: North Carolina recorded 20 plate appearances before the Tar Heels tallied their first hit. Brown’s solo home run to right field in the sixth inning broke up Letourneau’s no-hit bid.
1: Senior Aquilla Mateen’s single in the bottom of the seventh inning was UNC's only hit that was not a home run.
UNC hosts Northwestern again at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday before playing Illinois at 6 p.m. in the second day of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.