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The Daily Tar Heel

Preview: UNC softball looks to replicate last season's success with returning talent

Brittany Pickett UNC v FSU
UNC junior pitcher Brittany Pickett (28) winds up for a pitch during a double header against the FSU Seminoles at G. Anderson Softball Stadium on Monday, April 15, 2019. The Tar Heels beat the Seminoles in both games.

The 2019 season was one that saw unprecedented success for the North Carolina softball team, including a victorious series against then-No. 3 Florida State, which was their first-ever defeat of a top-5 team. With nine victories over ranked teams, the Tar Heels were able to finish as runners-up in the ACC Tournament. Their historic season ended at the NCAA Knoxville Regional Championship at the hands of Tennessee.

With two players being named to the preseason all-ACC team, North Carolina will look to replicate the success of last season, and possibly go even further. Despite season-opening losses to No. 2 Alabama and No. 9 Florida State, the Tar Heels won their next three, including a rematch against the Crimson Tide, and now sit at 3-2 on the season. 

Here's what to expect from the Tar Heels the rest of the way.


The Tar Heels have an abundance of pitching talent, and one of the key returning stars is senior pitcher Brittany Pickett. She was named first-team all-ACC in 2019 and is the UNC record-holder for most career saves with 12. Her 2.02 ERA last season was the lowest of her college career, and her impressive performances during the season led to her collecting the ACC Co-Pitcher of the Week honor three times. 

Sophomore Hannah George also had a great 2019, being named to the ACC All-Freshman team and earning an ACC Pitcher of the Week honor. George threw 10 complete games last season, with four of those being shutouts. She was also a force at the plate, where she logged five multiple-RBI games including a seven-RBI game against UNC-Charlotte, which tied a UNC single-game record.

The Tar Heels will look to uphold their stellar pitching from last season, when they had a collective ERA of 3.7.

As for the rest of the defense, North Carolina ranked third in the ACC with a .972 fielding percentage. Junior catcher Megan Dray and senior first baseman Campbell Hutcherson should be the leaders of the team in the field. 

Dray was first in the ACC for fielding percentage with 0.994 and seventh in putouts with 325. She will look to be a force for the Tar Heels behind the plate, where she threw out 12 runners stealing last season. Hutcherson fared even better in putouts, with her mark of 394 being second in the ACC. 


With two of the team’s best hitters in Kiani Ramsey and Leah Murray graduating at the end of last season, the Tar Heels have some holes to fill in the lineup.

UNC will look to returning players such as redshirt junior outfielder Kristina Burkhardt. She hit .304 last season and posted five home runs and 39 RBIs. Those all marked career bests, and earned her a spot on the preseason all-ACC team this year. 

Sophomore infielder Abby Settlemyre also stood out last year with a .306 batting average, one home run and 14 RBIs. Her batting average was UNC’s third-highest in 2019, and she will need to keep this up if the Tar Heels hope to reach the postseason once again.

In addition to the returning hitters, North Carolina recruited well this offseason. UNC added top recruits in outfielder Bri Stubbs and utility player Katie Perkins. Stubbs, a first-team all-state player in her native Georgia, hit .515 en route to a state championship in her junior year of high school. Perkins, also from Georgia, won two state championships and batted .394 overall in high school. 

The two newcomers, along with the returners, should be able to replace Ramsey and Murray and help the Tar Heels make a deep run in the postseason once again.


@DTHSports |

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