The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Friday, March 1, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

UNC softball goes 2-2 in season-opening tournament in Mexico

Brittany Pickett NCSU

Sophomore pitcher Brittany Pickett (28) prepares for an inning against N.C. State on April 16 in Anderson Stadium.

Starting its season in Mexico, the North Carolina softball team (2-2, 0-0) competed in the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge and split four games against Baylor (3-1), Washington (3-1), BYU (1-3) and South Carolina (3-2).

What happened?

North Carolina played a total of four games in the tournament over the course of three days, winning two and losing two.

Friday

On Friday, UNC competed against No. 18 Baylor and No. 3 Washington. The Tar Heels weren’t able to beat either opponent, however, suffering disappointing losses to a pair of top teams.

While playing against Baylor, North Carolina scored first and maintained its lead all the way to the top of the fifth inning, when they lead 5-4. However, during the bottom of the fifth inning Baylor was able to secure a run to tie the game at five. The teams continued to score and found themselves deadlocked in extra innings. After playing the Bears closely, however, the Tar Heels fell just short in the tenth inning when Baylor scored a walkoff run to secure a 10-9 win.

Then, North Carolina was crushed in its second game of the day against Washington by a score of 9-1. The Tar Heels drew first blood in the game, scoring a run in the top of the first inning, but were held scoreless for the remainder of the game. Washington came out roaring in the bottom of the third with three runs and continued to run up the score and limit UNC at the plate, putting the Tar Heels at 0-2 on the young season.

Saturday

Staring down an 0-3 start to the season, the Tar Heels were able to win their first game of the season against BYU. North Carolina only had one run going into the fifth inning, but powered by a three-run home run from redshirt sophomore Kristina Burkhardt, the Tar Heels were able to secure four runs in the inning. From there, North Carolina was able to maintain its lead and beat BYU, 5-4.

Sunday

Facing off against No. 9 South Carolina in the last game of the tournament, the Tar Heels were able to secure a second win and an impressive upset. North Carolina didn’t allow South Carolina to get a single run, and launched its second home run of the season in the bottom of the fifth inning by way of first-year pitcher Hannah George. The Tar Heels won the game with a final score of 4-0.

Who stood out?

Throughout the whole challenge Burkhardt stood out the most, most notably with a home run against BYU on Saturday. North Carolina head coach Donna Papa said Burkhardt stood out because of both her hitting and field work.

“She hit so well and drove in a bunch of runs for us against Baylor and then just the whole weekend she was just really steady," Papa said. "Made a fantastic diving catch today against South Carolina to secure the win, and she’s been hitting really, really well throughout the fall and the spring.”

Why does it matter?

Though the tournament started off shaky for the Tar Heels, Papa said the diversity in teams at the tournament allows North Carolina to get wins and expose potential problems early on.

“I think for the rest of the season you can go back to some of the games that we played and some of the things that we did and reference those and use those going forward," Papa said. "It also shows you some of the areas that kind of got exposed for us, and some of the bright spots."

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels compete at home against No. 19 Michigan and No. 22 Northwestern in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge starting on Feb. 15.

@MarkBurnett1234

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.