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.