North Carolina’s starter Brittany Pickett added to the Tar Heel tally in the second with a solo shot of her own. The home run gave UNC a one-run lead. North Carolina added a third run in the third, taking advantage of a throwing error.
James Madison came all the way back to start the fourth frame. The Dukes loaded the bases with just one out and promptly brought around three runners to score. A spectacular play at short by Lynch prevented the inning from getting out of hand. By the end of the inning the Dukes had regained a one-run lead.
UNC had its best chance to score in the final inning. The Tar Heels loaded the bases with nobody out, yet they were unable to push across the tying run.
When was it decided?
The game was truly decided in the bottom of the seventh inning. North Carolina entered the frame trailing by one run. The bases were loaded with nobody out, but the Tar Heels were unable to capitalize, resulting in a slim James Madison victory.
The Dukes started the game hot, recording two straight hits to open up the game. However, Pickett threw two straight strikeouts to keep James Madison from continuing its streak.
After a quick at-bat for the Tar Heels, the Dukes took to the plate and hit a solo home run to open up the second inning, putting the score at 1-0. UNC rallied, though, forcing a quick three outs.
The bottom of the second inning and top of the third featured more talking between the umpires than actual softball played. Once play resumed in the third, James Madison took advantage and hit a two-run home run to make the score 3-0.
The scoring continued for James Madison in the third with a two-run double. After the two runs, first-year Kellyn Daly replaced Pickett on the mound. Daly, with her unique pre-pitch routine, managed to close out the four-run James Madison inning.
In perhaps the only high point in the game for UNC, Daly — seeing action in only her ninth game this season — recorded two straight strikeouts to keep the Dukes off the board.
But in the fifth, things continued to go James Madison’s way. The fifth batter up hit a ground ball right to Daly. With runners on first and second, Daly hesitated for a moment and then threw a wild ball to first. Campbell Hutcherson was unable to corral it, leading to two runs scored. Next, in a bizarre sequence, the Dukes managed to score another run on a bunt, making the score 8-0.
After the three quick runs, redshirt sophomore Sydney Matzko replaced Daly on the mound and secured the final out of the tumultuous inning for the Tar Heels.
In the bottom of the fifth, the hitting drought continued for UNC. The Tar Heels were unable to score a run, and the game ended by mercy rule with a final score of 8-0.
When was it decided?
The four-run third inning for James Madison proved to be too much for the Tar Heels. UNC’s hitting struggles continued throughout the game while James Madison continued to put runs on the board, making the game a one-sided affair.
Who stood out?
Although Lynch didn’t play in the second game, she had a stellar performance in the first one. She was 3-for-3 at the plate with a home run and a double.
Lynch was named one of 34 finalists for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, and Wednesday afternoon’s performance showed why.
Lynch ranked third in the NCAA in home runs and RBIs entering play.
Why does it matter?
These two losses are the sixth and seventh straight defeats for the Tar Heels against James Madison dating back to 2014. The Dukes now holds the lead in the all-time series, 7-6.
The losses also mean UNC finished out its final regular season home stand with a pair of losses. The Tar Heels can still get at least one more win in Anderson Stadium, however, as the ACC Tournament will be played in Chapel Hill from May 11 to 13.
Where do they play next?
North Carolina travels to the campus of No. 2 Florida State this weekend to compete in its final series of the regular season.