“We run a lot more than I used to run,” head coach Donna Papa said. “The last two years we’ve run a lot more than I’ve ever.”
One reason UNC is running is the top of its order. DeBerry and Leah Murray bat 1-2 in the lineup, and can get on with myriad methods, including bunting for a base hit, beating out a groundball or using power to drive the ball into gaps for extra bases.
“Our slappers have done a really nice job getting on in a variety of ways,” Papa said.
Once on base, both DeBerry and Murray have speed to steal with ease, which allows Papa to double steal, or even fake a bunt, to move runners into scoring position.
DeBerry and Murray’s combined nine runs at the top of the order were big, as the pair got on base early and often, but players throughout their lineup also provided key moments of speed. First-years Hailey Cole and Micaela Abbatine combined for four stolen bases and six runs in both pinch running and starting roles.
“We have a lot of speed throughout the whole lineup,” DeBerry said. “We’re able to get into scoring position more easily than just relying on our power.”
Once in scoring position, the Tar Heels still needed clutch hits to drive in runners, which the heart of the lineup provided.
Katie Bailiff was the star of the weekend. The sophomore drove in eight runs across three starts, smacking four doubles including a walk-off double to defeat Ohio State on Friday. On Sunday, her home run off a 12 pitch at-bat set the tone for a Tar Heel rout.
“They’re hitting the ball and getting on base,” Bailiff said. “We’re just executing well.”
Junior Taylor Wike and senior Kendra Lynch performed out of the middle of the lineup as well. Wike snagged three RBIs during the weekend, while Lynch’s three-run home run put the game out of reach for the Boilermakers on Sunday.
As the team’s 10 first-years get acclimated to their new roles, Papa knows the team will continue to improve. For now though, she’s just happy with how they performed this weekend.
“You’re always going to have a couple of little hiccups,” Papa said. “But, I’m really proud of how we came out and performed this weekend.”