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UNC softball bounces back from two early losses with two Sunday wins in Carolina Classic

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Members of the UNC softball team watch as the home game against the University of Connecticut continues on Sunday, March 6, 2022.

Looking to revitalize its season after losing three of the last five games, the North Carolina softball team headed into the Carolina Classic tournament this weekend with renewed energy. 

Although the Tar Heels got off to a rough start, losing to the Penn State and Oregon by scores of 12-0 and 9-1, they bounced back on Sunday with back-to-back 8-7 victories over the UConn Huskies and the UNCG Spartans.

It was a tale of two teams this weekend for North Carolina. The Tar Heels struggled to get things going against their first two opponents, only scoring one total run between both games.

“The first two games, they were disappointing for me,” head coach Donna J. Papa said. “Oregon is a very good team, so I will not take anything away from them. They beat everybody — I think they runrolled everybody, or pretty close to it.”

The Tar Heels struggled to hit the ball in their first two outings as they managed to earn just nine hits in both games combined. This, combined with their difficulties of keeping their opponent off of the score sheet, led to two lopsided results to open the weekend.

Although UNC did not get off to the start that they hoped for, the team responded to losses by winning the next two games.

North Carolina had to claw its way to its first victory of the tournament on Sunday with a one-run victory over UConn. Although the Tar Heels dominated early on as they took a 7-0 lead, they had to stave off a late comeback attempt by the Huskies that began in the fifth inning.

“We were able to stay within ourselves and not feel defeated after they were able to come back,” said junior outfielder Bri Stubbs. “In some moments, teams are able to fall underneath with that type of comeback, but we were able to stay calm and collected.”

The Tar Heels showed that they are a team capable of handling adversity as they were able to get their weekend back on track.

“We got together as a team after the two losses and refound our purpose as a group,” Stubbs said. “I feel like we kind of went off the wagon for a little while, and we just needed to regather and find what our purpose was as a group. Once we did that, we were able to step back up on the field and put it all together as a group.”

The Tar Heels went on to win their next game against the UNCG Spartans by the same narrow margin of one run. 

This game was decidedly more back-and-forth than the previous one as there were multiple swings of momentum as the lead changed from inning to inning. 

Sophomore pitcher Talia Hannappel also noticed how well her team was able to bounce back.

“Some of the biggest takeaways from this weekend is just our ability to bounce back and make such a drastic change in one day,” Hannappel said. "From going from scoring no runs to scoring about 16 in one day — that’s a huge change. We can be a powerhouse, we just gotta keep doing what we’re doing.”

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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