Liberty’s lead did not last long. UNC got consecutive hits in the bottom of the third before sophomore Kristina Burkhardt hit an RBI single to tie the game at two.
After a scoreless fourth inning, senior Destiny DeBerry single-handedly gave the Tar Heels the lead. DeBerry hit a single, then successfully bolted to second on a steal, arriving just before the ball got there. Deberry then advanced to third on a Burkhardt sacrifice fly, and took advantage of an error to reach home plate.
Junior Brittany Pickett closed out the game and shut the door on Liberty. She retired the side in the seventh inning and ensured the close ball game didn't fall out of reach.
Who stood out?
DeBerry had a fantastic day, highlighted by her fifth inning contributions — including a steal that put her in scoring position.
“I was like pretty close to being out right there and putting myself in scoring position sets us up for success," DeBerry said. "So I was like I have to make sure I push even harder right now so I can beat us when I run in case we don’t get another opportunity to do so.”
DeBerry later scored the winning run. She credited her hard work in practice as being the reason for her baserunning.
“We always talk about being aggressive so whenever we get the opportunity, we want to try and get the next base and so we work on that every single day in practice,” DeBerry said. So when we come out here it is basically second-hand nature, like it’s just there.”
DeBerry was one of two Tar Heels with two hits, along with Burkhardt.
When was it decided?
Going into the fifth inning, the Tar Heels were tied with the Flames in a close battle.
Then DeBerry stepped up to the plate. After getting on base with a single, she decided to take a risk and take off towards second base. That risk payed off, as head coach Donna Papa said it was crucial to the win after the game.
“I thought one of the keys was Destiny stealing second, and then that base running that she did off the ball that kind of got knocked away,” Papa said.
After that inning, UNC took control of the game defensively. Liberty could muster another hit after the third inning, while DeBerry's run energized her team and put them ahead.
Why does it matter?
The Tar Heels have now won their fifth game in a row.
“I think we’ve been playing some of our best softball,” Papa said. “We’ve been hitting the ball well, we’ve been playing solid defense, our pitching looks good.”
The impressive play comes at an important time, just ahead of a tough challenge against No. 3 Florida State.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels take on the defending national champions in Florida State next. Game one of the series is set to begin on Saturday, April 13, at 1 p.m.
@DTHSports | email@example.com