By midnight, the Tar Heels found a way to win because they had a secret weapon: Brittany Pickett.
A two and a half hour weather delay could not get in the way of the No. 3 seed North Carolina softball team in the quarterfinal of the ACC tournament. By a four-run sixth inning, the Tar Heels closed out the win over No. 6 Georgia Tech in the quarterfinal of the ACC tournament.
A few weeks ago, UNC lost two of three to the Yellow Jackets in a weekend series. But with a chance to advance on the line, the team made sure it wouldn't happen again.
Pickett was the standout on defense and at plate who ended up making the difference in the win. Striking out seven and going 2-for-4 with two RBIs, she had a performance that could not be overcome on offense or in the field.
In the third inning, Pickett hit a lead-changing RBI single, then followed it up with a home run in the sixth. From the circle, she held hitters to just four hits and one run in 25 batters faced.
“She makes a big difference in our lineup,” head coach Donna Papa said. “She can really change the game in a heartbeat. We’ve relied on her a lot and she’s come through for us the majority of the time. She’s been great for us all year. I can’t say enough good things about her.”
With the win, Pickett now has a 28-11 record on the season, tied for the second-most victories in the country this year. She is four wins back of Meghan Beaubien, the first-year pitcher at Michigan.
But she didn't start out playing as well as her stat line finished. Papa said she noticed that Pickett began to gradually improve over the course of the contest after struggling in the first two innings.
“Early on, she wasn’t as sharp, but I thought she controlled their hitters much better and got stronger as the game went on,” Papa said. “I’m proud on how she battled through the game today.”