The North Carolina softball team (5-3) swept No. 17 Michigan in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, taking down the Wolverines for the second time on Sunday, 4-2.
After going 1-1 on Friday, beating Michigan (4-5) but being blown out by Northwestern, the Tar Heels proved their strength through the rest of the tournament. UNC smoked the Wildcats, 5-0, Saturday, when junior pitcher Brittany Pickett tossed a complete game shutout, highlighted by a nine-pitch third inning.
UNC did not back down through the entire contest against Michigan. Similar to Friday’s game against the Wolverines, neither team was able to score through the first two innings. But the Tar Heels got on the board first to take a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning. UNC manufactured the two runs with a combination of two walks, a throwing error and two timely singles from redshirt sophomore Kristina Burkhardt and senior Kiani Ramsey.
In the bottom of the third, Michigan tied it up with a two-run homer. The game was quiet until the top of the fifth inning, when the Tar Heels pushed another run across with a walk, two players hit by pitches and a fielder’s choice, to take the lead, 3-2, after five.
UNC added an insurance run in the top of the seventh with a sacrifice-fly RBI from first-year Hannah George, ending the scoring for the day and winning, 4-2.
Who stood out?
With the combination of strong pitching and solid defense, UNC held the Wolverines to just two runs on eight hits. The two pitchers, George and Pickett, held the Wolverines throughout the game, ensuring a North Carolina win.
When was it decided?
UNC scored what became the game-winning run in the top of the fifth. Michigan was not heard from again.
Why does it matter?
UNC took three out of four games in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, taking two from the 17th-ranked Wolverines, giving them a winning record of 5-3. After this successful weekend, the Tar Heels will look to build on their momentum heading into the rest of the season.
When do they play next?
Beginning Thursday, Feb. 21st, UNC will go on the road, traveling to the west coast to compete in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. The Tar Heels will play Oklahoma State and Kentucky on Thursday, Utah and New Mexico State on Friday and Long Beach State on Saturday.
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