Don’t let her year fool you – first-year Sierra Parkinson means business.
In North Carolina softball’s series sweep over fellow ACC Coastal opponent Virginia Tech (15-23, 2-12 ACC), Parkinson’s bat came up big for the Tar Heels.
“I think that it’s just my teammates because they give so much positive energy toward me, and they pump me up all of the time,” Parkinson said of her success this weekend. “I have to give it to them.”
UNC (22-19, 11-4 ACC) recorded its second three-game sweep of the season, with the first one coming almost a month ago against Duke.
Heading into the first game of the series on Friday afternoon, the Tar Heels were coming off a three-game losing streak over the course of five days.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth inning in Friday’s first game, Parkinson was up to bat. Junior Berlynne Delamora had just been thrown out at first base, but she advanced redshirt first-year Kristina Burkhardt home with an RBI ground out to second base to tie the score at one.
It was up to Parkinson to give North Carolina the lead.
With sophomore Hailey Cole on third base, Parkinson hit an RBI single into right field to bring her home and give UNC the lead, 2-1.
Following Parkinson’s single, the Virginia Tech defense secured the next two outs off UNC hitters to head into the top of the seventh inning.
However, the Hokies batters went three-up, three-down in the seventh and UNC took the first game of the series with a 2-1 win.
On Sunday, North Carolina was looking to uphold its first-place rank in the Coastal Division with a sweep over Virginia Tech after dominating the Hokies in Friday’s second game en route to a 10-2 mercy rule victory.
The teams traded runs in the first two innings. But neither team scored after the second frame and the game went into extra innings with the score tied at two.
In the top of the eighth inning, Hokies shortstop Caitlyn Nolan crushed the first pitch of the inning over the wall for a solo home run to give her team a 3-2 lead.
After Nolan’s home run, two of Virginia Tech’s batters reached base later in the frame with a single and a hit by pitch. However, the Tar Heels managed to record the final out without letting the Hokies reach home plate again.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, it was do or die for North Carolina.
Things were looking promising for UNC as its first two batters of the inning reached base off consecutive bunt hits.
Three batters later and with runners on second and third base, Delamora was faced with a 3-2 count at the plate with two outs. An outside pitch by Virginia Tech pitcher Carrie Eberle sent Delamora to first base with a walk.
Parkinson found herself at the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. Without hesitation, she hit the first pitch into center field for a walk-off two-run single for the 4-3 win.
“Sierra just came in and attacked the first pitch, which really has been one of the ones that Virginia Tech’s pitcher had thrown for a strike,” head coach Donna J. Papa said. “Sierra really had a good plan, I think.”
Parkinson, who is hitting .275 on the season after Sunday’s game, secured the sweep for North Carolina in the extra-inning win over Virginia Tech.
“Being a freshman, I feel like I wanted to pull some weight for my teammates," she said, "and to just do it for them.”
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