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The Daily Tar Heel

Analysis: Three reasons why it's not time to panic about UNC softball

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 North Carolina softball team (8-11) found its way out of a six-game skid this weekend with two victories to seal the series win against Pittsburgh. In the span a month, the Tar Heels have already had a rollercoaster's worth of a season. 

Their journey has included highs — their win against then-No. 2 Alabama — and lows like the aforementioned losing streak. But despite the losses, it's not time for UNC softball fans to worry yet. Here's why.

Injury and youth

Losing senior Brittany Pickett to an injury was a huge blow for the Tar Heels, who relied on her pitching to carry them to the early-season win against Alabama. Pickett is not only their star pitcher, having been named to the All-ACC First Team last year, but also one of only two North Carolina seniors that saw consistent starts last season. 

During her career, Pickett has started 104 games and made 149 pitching appearances for the Tar Heels. Through these games she's tallied 12 saves, helping her team out of some tough binds. 

Despite Pickett's absence, UNC has found some relief for its pitching woes from sophomore Hannah George, who was named to the All-ACC Freshman Team last season. George has tallied 45 appearances in the circle as a Tar Heel, and 16 have come from this season alone. The sophomore has struck out 45 batters this season, with an ERA of 2.87. 

George has showed up for the Tar Heels when they've needed her most this season and hasn't allowed more than two runs in each of the last three games she's pitched, including two back-to-back games against Pittsburgh.

Tough schedule

Tar Heel fans can also take solace in the tough schedule UNC softball had to endure in its first month of the season, including six match-ups against then-ranked teams. Those matchups included No. 2 Alabama, No. 9 Florida State, No. 11 Michigan, and No. 21 James Madison. In those six games UNC picked up one ranked win, against the Crimson Tide.

In the remainder of the season UNC will only face two more teams currently ranked in the top-25, South Carolina and Virginia Tech, who are ranked No. 15 and 19, respectively. That should allow the Tar Heels space for the growing pains that come with a team that rosters only eight upperclassmen. 

It's softball

The UNC softball team dropped twenty games last season, including a three-game losing streak to unranked teams in February. That same team made it to the finals of the ACC Tournament.

As for the winners of that ACC title, the Florida State Seminoles had a three-game losing streak of their own in their journey to the championship. The only team in the last six years other than the Seminoles to take home the ACC tournament trophy was the Wolfpack in 2013. That season featured a glaring eight-game losing streak right in the middle. 

Sometimes in softball, enduring the skid is half the battle. The Tar Heels certainly seem to have made it through with two statement wins this weekend against Pittsburgh. Now comes the other part: turning it around.


@DTHSports |

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