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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC softball advances to ACC Tournament semifinal with 6-0 win over Boston College

The North Carolina softball team defeated Boston College, 6-0, on Thursday afternoon at Dail Stadium in Raleigh in the first round of the ACC Softball Championship.

What Happened?

For five full frames, not much of anything happened. Pitchers Kendra Lynch of North Carolina (31-22) and Jessica Dreswick of Boston College (30-23) kept hitters guessing and kept runs off the board in the first five innings of the game.

Both teams had chances, most notably Boston College in the bottom of the fourth. With two on and one out, Lynch was in a bit of trouble. But, she got Chloe Sharabba to line into the waiting glove of shortstop Kristen Brown, who promptly flipped the ball to third baseman Berlynne Delamora for the inning-ending double play. Lynch pinpointed that play as the one that flipped the momentum to the Tar Heels’ side.

“That saved the game, I think,” Lynch said. “That gave the momentum back to us and I think we kind of stayed with it and kept it the rest of the game, so that was definitely a game-changing play for sure.”

It wasn’t until the sixth inning, with the momentum on their side, that the Tar Heels broke through, scoring six runs to put away the game.

“In the early innings, we didn’t connect and make it happen,” Coach Donna Papa said. “But the one thing about this team is I feel like we’ve been very resilient all season and we just kept working and working and working and when we got some opportunities later, we got it done.”

The Tar Heels finished with 10 hits to Boston College’s four, improving their record to 21-1 when they outhit their opponent.

Who stood out?

North Carolina’s star pitcher and hitter, Kendra Lynch. Lynch was her usual self on the mound with a dominant complete game performance. Lynch kept the ball in the zone and let her defense do a lot of the work for her. 76 of her 113 pitches were strikes and she did not walk any of the 26 batters she faced.

“I just focused on hitting my spots,” Lynch said. “I try not to give them free bases, especially in a game like that. When I’ve been getting them to pop out or ground out, I just kinda put it to where I know they will put it in play, but I just trust my defense. They played great so I just knew they would get the out for me.”

Lynch improved to 27-16 on the year and is on a real hot streak in the circle at the tail end of the season. In her last seven pitching appearances, Lynch has gone the distance each time and has won each start.

She’s also hitting the ball well. On Thursday, Lynch went 1-3 with a walk and a run scored. Coach Papa pinpointed her ability to switch from pitcher to hitter and still be just as successful as an area where she has improved this season.

“She had a hard time going from offense to defense or defense to offense ... it would affect her either way,” Papa said. “That does not affect her at all anymore. So that’s where she has really grown and as a pitcher.”

When was it decided?

The top of the sixth inning was the defining moment in the game. Kendra Lynch got things started with a leadoff walk, which snowballed into Tracy Chandless ripping an RBI double. With North Carolina ahead 1-0, Lauren Fuller came up with a chance to make a real mark on the game.

“We had a runner on second with less than two outs so I was just trying to move her over,” Fuller said. “Kendra just told me she was missing up and in, but I decided I was going to hit that one, I guess.”

“It just looked like a beach ball coming in, and sometimes that happens.”

That beach ball sailed over the right-field fence and put UNC up 3-0. North Carolina added three more runs later in the frame to take control of the game.

Why does it Matter?

The Tar Heels advanced to the second semi-final of the ACC Championship. Top-seeded Florida State awaits next, presenting quite a challenge. Papa called Florida State is the best team in the ACC, but with Lynch on the mound and with North Carolina on a six-game winning streak, the Tar Heels are ready for the challenge.

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“I feel like we are playing some of our best softball right now,” Papa said. “I’m exciting about the opportunity to go in there and show them really who we are and what kind of team we have.”

Where do they play next?

UNC will take on the Seminoles in the ACC Tournament semifinal at 1 p.m. on Friday.