Whether on the mound or at the plate, sophomore pitcher Brittany Pickett can do it all.
Not only did Pickett pitch 17 innings over the past three days for North Carolina (25-21, 13-5 ACC) in a series win over rival N.C. State (22-21, 5-12 ACC), but she went 2-3 at the plate on Monday night.
In Friday’s 6-0 shutout win over the Wolfpack, Pickett tied a career high with 10 strikeouts and limited N.C. State to four hits.
On Saturday, the script was flipped.
N.C. State disrupted Senior Day for Taylor Wike and Katelyn Shifflett in a 10-1 run-rule win. Pickett pitched four complete innings that featured four strikeouts before sophomore Kellyn Daly took over. In the top of the sixth inning, the Wolfpack scored four runs during the team’s final appearance at the plate.
During Monday night’s game that was televised by ESPNU, the Tar Heels excelled in the spotlight as Pickett recorded another shutout win over the Wolfpack. Pickett is 23-8 on the mound this season.
In the bottom of the first inning with one out and runners on first and second base, Pickett was at the plate.
With a 3-2 count, she crushed the ball over the left field wall for a three-run home run to give UNC an early 3-0 lead. The home run marked Pickett’s third of the season.
“She sent it middle out and it was a perfect pitch because that’s what we’ve been working on, especially yesterday because I really focused on my fundamentals in practice,” Pickett said of her at-bat. “That’s what helped me today.”
With her heavy pitching load this season, Pickett does not make it into the lineup often. However, that may change.
“This was her first time back in the lineup in a while,” head coach Donna J. Papa said. “I don’t know if we’re going to be able to take her out now.”
Heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, the Tar Heels were up 6-0. With two outs and a runner on second base, Wike stepped up to the plate. She drove a line drive into center field for an RBI triple that pushed UNC’s lead to 7-0.
It was then up to Pickett to end the game with at least a single to send Wike home for a potential run-rule win.
She hit a ground ball into right field for an RBI single to send Wike home from third base and to end the game with an 8-0 run-rule win. Wike led the Tar Heels on offense by going 4-4 at the plate, setting a new career high in hits.
“I was going out there and being aggressive earlier in the count,” Wike said. “That really is what helped me to be successful tonight.”
There is still plenty of softball left to play this season, but Wike’s impact on the North Carolina softball program won’t be forgotten.
“She represents Carolina so well and wears that uniform with pride and class,” Papa said of Wike. “She’s a great player from the state of North Carolina, and that’s so cool to have an in-state player at the University of North Carolina."
Wike will never forget about the North Carolina softball program, either.
“It’s meant everything,” Wike said. “To come here has been my dream since I was in the seventh grade, so getting to come here and live out my dream has meant the world to me.”
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