The North Carolina softball team (10-13, 6-7 ACC) put up a fight against UNC-Charlotte (18-8, 3-1 C-USA) before falling 11-4 to the 49ers in a Tuesday game.
The Tar Heels started out slow after going down 6-0 in the second inning. The Tar Heels started to gain momentum as they scored four unanswered and entered the sixth down just two. The 49ers then erupted for five runs in the sixth, essentially icing the game.
“We’ve been trying to do the little things well,” head coach Donna Papa said. “We’ve gotta be able to put the ball in play and score runs. We had some opportunities today with bases loaded and we wound up scoring one run from that. We’ve gotta capitalize on those opportunities that we get to be able to make the most of it.”
Who stood out?
In a game where the Tar Heels’ batting struggles continued, fifth-year pitcher and first baseman Brittany Pickett stood out with a home run and two RBIs. First-year middle infielders Kiannah Pierce and Skyler Brooks, also registered an RBI apiece
With two starting pitchers out, UNC pitchers struggled against Charlotte. The Tar Heels played four different pitchers against Charlotte. Two of those pitchers played two or more innings, both allowing a combined 10 runs and three homers.
“Our pitching staff that we have right now, without Brittany Pickett, Hannah George is gonna be out the rest of the season, it’s people that haven’t been in those situations,” Papa said. “We haven’t had to rely on them and now we do, so their roles are a little different, they have to make adjustments. All that stuff takes time, they are all young, and they have not been on the mound a lot.”
When was it decided?
The Tar Heels closed the gap after scoring four straight to reduce the 49ers’ lead to just two at the start of the sixth inning. The game was all but decided by the end of the sixth, though, as the 49ers scored five unanswered, taking a 11-4 lead.
“We just have to keep on making little strides to get better, keep competing and having energy,” Papa said. “It’s just little victories like today our outfielder and our right field threw out two people, one at first base and one at second base. One of our pitchers that went in for the first time ever threw a first-pitch strike. You have to build on those kinds of positives, on the little things, to be able to get better. It doesn’t happen all at once.”
Why does it matter?
The Heels dropping one non-conference game is not the end of the world for this team, as it has a final stretch of conference play remaining before the ACC Tournament begins on May 12.
More experience for North Carolina’s young pitchers means the Tar Heels are likely to improve over the course of the last months of the season in April and early May.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels next take the field on Friday, April 9 at 4 p.m., at home against the Virginia Cavaliers.
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