Two innings earlier, it was Finney who tied the game with an RBI-single with two outs in the fourth.
Pickett, the ACC Freshman of the Year, took the loss for UNC, which was just her 10th of the season, in what was her third start in as many days.
Early on, UNC’s offense put her in a position to earn a win.
Facing Ole Miss ace Kaitlin Lee, who pitched the entirety of the SEC Tournament for the Rebels a week ago, the Tar Heels struck first, scoring a pair of runs in the first and second innings.
An RBI-single from designated player Kendra Lynch opened the scoring and right fielder Brittany West sent in another run with a base hit to center field.
After their good start, the Tar Heels struggled against Lee, however, and had only one more hit in the final five innings.
The Rebels picked up several insurance runs in the top of the seventh.
Finney’s two-run bomb was undoubtedly the difference maker. From that point on, Ole Miss had the comfort of knowing its best pitcher was throwing with a multi-run lead late in the game on its home field.
Three to know
Brittany Finney, Ole Miss: The sophomore had two of the biggest hits of the day for the Rebels. Had she not come up with a clutch two-out hit in the fourth to tie the game, perhaps the outcome would have been different.
Kaitlin Lee, Ole Miss: To say Ole Miss depends on Lee would be an understatement. The Rebel ace has pitched every inning of postseason play for her team and despite a slow start against UNC, she was in top form for much of the day.
Leah Murray, UNC: The Tar Heel lead-off hitter capped off a productive weekend with a good day at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a double and a run. In UNC’s four NCAA Tournament games, she went 9-14.
By the numbers
2: errors committed by UNC.
2.91: Pickett’s final ERA in what was an impressive rookie campaign by the first-year pitcher.
3: two-out RBIs for Ole Miss.
6: strikeouts by Lee.
68: RBIs for Lynch in her senior season, a new UNC single-season record.
They said it
“This has been the best experience I think I ever could have asked for. Having the opportunity to be here has been so rewarding and being able to grow each year as a person is something I could never thank Coach P. enough for, for giving me the chance for that. I’m really proud to be a Tar Heel and I’m really excited that I was able to leave a mark.” – Lynch on her career as a Tar Heel.
The offseason begins now for the Tar Heels.
UNC will be tasked with replacing the production of Lynch, who could hit for both average and power in addition to pitching when needed.
On an encouraging note for Papa and her staff, Lynch is one of only two players expected to depart, and 17 of UNC’s players this season were first-years or sophomores.