The day began with an 8-0 shutout victory over Detroit Mercy as first-year pitch Alyssa Stanley clinched her first collegiate win. This momentum stayed with the team through a walk-off win against the Crimson Tide.
UNC and Alabama remained fairly even through six innings, and the game rested on how the two could perform in the seventh. Junior Zoë Goodman became the star of the day when she hit a bases-clearing double to cap a five-run inning for North Carolina make the historic win.
“I knew the opening weekend was going to be one that tested us and I feel like we passed some tests while we were there,” head coach Donna Papa said. “They wound up in some good victories for us.”
Who stood out?
The Tar Heels' hero of the tournament was the catcher, Goodman, who won the Alabama game and came up with critical hits throughout the weekend.
“She did really well coming off the bench," Papa said. "That’s a tough role, when you come off the bench in the game and produce like she produced.”
When was it decided?
The key moment was UNC’s five-run seventh inning to earn a victory over one of the best teams in the nation.
Heading into the top of the seventh, the two teams were all squared up, 4-4. With very even pitching, it was going to come down to a special hit.
Goodman’s double was enough to send both of the runners home, putting UNC on top and securing the highest ranked win in program history.
“It was really so much fun when we actually won that game in that dramatic fashion,” Papa said. “It was bottom of the seventh and Brittany scored the run. It was nice to see everything come together.”
Why does it matter?
The Tar Heels’ performance in Florida is a strong outing to begin their season. The team is working on building an identity and reputation and beating the No. 2 team in the country is sure to draw attention.
“We have a very high ceiling and we feel that our standards need to be really high,” Papa said. “We came off last year being in the ACC tournament final, being in the regional final, and we just feel short. Our hashtag is 'want more', and that’s really what we’ve been pounding into them is wanting more of yourself and of your teammates.”
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will take on Campbell on Wednesday in Chapel Hill before the start of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Friday.
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