Brittany Pickett stood on the mound at Anderson Stadium on Tuesday night facing a full count, one out and runners on first and second.
It was the sixth and penultimate inning of the game between the North Carolina softball team and Longwood, and her Tar Heels (23-19, 11-4 ACC) were clinging to a precarious 1-0 lead. She stared down her catcher, wound up and delivered the pitch. Ball four.
Her head coach, Donna J. Papa, was livid with the call. “Come on, blue!” she yelled from just outside her dugout. “That’s ridiculous!”
But with the bases now loaded, Pickett stayed calm. She struck out the next batter on four pitches to record the second out and bring Jessica Smith to the plate for Longwood. A long, tense battle ensued that featured what felt like 50 foul balls with the count stuck at 2-2. Then, finally, Smith popped out to the shortstop to end the inning. Pickett had held strong and gotten out of the jam.
Just three batters later, first-year Sierra Parkinson delivered her first home run of the season—a two-run shot— to stretch UNC’s lead to three and put the game out of reach for the Lancers. For Pickett, it was a complete game shutout that marked her fourth consecutive win as UNC held on, 3-0.