As the opposing batters walked up to home plate and got into position, they looked across the field and all they saw was Carolina Blue.
The North Carolina softball team was defending the field and wasn’t budging. Grasping the bat, each batter stared down pitcher Brittany Pickett. Pickett wound up her arm and propelled the ball to home plate.
“Strike,” motioned the umpire. This is what the Tar Heels saw all weekend on the mound.
Pickett was the starting pitcher for the Tar Heels (22-13, 11-4 ACC) in games one and two of the series against Virginia (16-21, 5-10 ACC) over the weekend — leading UNC to two 8-0 mercy rule victories.
A junior from Indian Trail, N.C., Pickett is the best weapon for UNC. She has won 13 games for the Tar Heels this season and gave up a season-best one hit against Virginia on Sunday. Over the course of her three years at UNC, Pickett has 63 wins.
Against the Cavaliers, Pickett threw 10 scoreless innings, allowing three hits across two games and striking out 12. Behind her, the Tar Heels scored 16 runs and Pickett helped propel her team to a sweep of Virginia.
North Carolina head coach Donna Papa said she was very proud of Pickett for her control against some of Virginia's best hitters.
"Brittany is, you know she’s a junior now, she’s been in so many situations, but I thought she was really on this weekend," Papa said. "I thought her pitches moved well, she did a good job locating them and if she went up, then she went down or if she went down, then she came up, so I think she really had their hitters really off balance a lot and she controlled that tempo.”
Pickett echoed Papa’s belief that an added day of practice helped the team zone in and focus on minor details. On Thursday, Pickett threw a bullpen session that simulated the Cavaliers lineup to prepare for the upcoming games, something she said allowed her to be so effective.