The North Carolina softball team (2-1, 2-1 ACC) lost the first half of a double header against Syracuse (2-0, 2-0 ACC) on Saturday, 3-2, in a nine inning matchup.
The Tar Heels got out to a slow start, with junior Hannah George hitting Syracuse’s Gabby Teran with a pitch in the first inning. Teran would eventually score off an RBI to center field to give Syracuse a 1-0 lead after the first inning.
The score remained the same until the top of the sixth, when Syracuse's Toni Martin hit a home run to right field. UNC would force the next three Syracuse batters to ground out before failing to score itself. The teams entered the seventh inning with Syracuse up 2-0.
The Tar Heels hit their stride in the seventh with a series of pinch hitters coming up big. Redshirt senior Kristina Burkhardt was walked to start the inning, and first-year Kiannah Pierce, pinch hitting for junior Kiersten Licea, would get to first on a play that Burkhardt would get tagged out at second base.
Sophomore Bri Stubbs would also manage to get on base, before Zoë Goodman knocked a ball to centerfield. Though Goodman would be out on a fly ball at centerfield, her contact would enable Stubbs to advance to second base and for Pierce to advance to third. Next at bat was junior Taylor Greene, who knocked in both Stubbs and Pierce. The seventh inning ended with UNC and Syracuse tied at 2-2.
the Tar Heels and Orange entered the ninth still tied. At the top of the inning, Syracuse’s Paris Woods would advance to third on a ground out. Woods would end up scoring off a single to put the Orange up 3-2. With UNC failing to score in the bottom of the ninth, Syracuse won the first game of the double header.
Who stood out?
UNC received key contributions from pinch hitters and runners who contributed to both runs. Katie Perkins registered a hit in her only at bat, as well as Pierce scoring a run following her only at bat. Baptista, Skyler Brooks and Greene each also registered a hit, with Greene being responsible for both RBIs by the Tar Heels. George would also hold Syracuse to six hits with two strikeouts and only three walks through nine innings.
When was it decided?
The game came down to the wire with both teams tied up entering the ninth inning and both sides struggling to score. Syracuse’s ability to jump out to an early lead enabled them to place pressure on the Tar Heels for much of the game and weather the late charge from UNC. The Orange were able to end the game in in nine innings thanks in large part to Woods’ ninth inning score and their ability to quickly end the ninth by striking out the first three batters for the Tar Heels.
Why does it matter?
The Tar Heels came into the matchup after two dominant wins against Boston College. In a season where out-of-conference games are hard to come by, the Tar Heels are going to need to capitalize on every ACC game — especially those at home — that they are able to play. This loss gave the Orange an early advantage in the three-game series.
When do they play next?
After finishing out the series against the Orange with two wins and one loss, the Tar Heels will face Troy in a double header on Friday, Feb. 26 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
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