Baseball season is in full swing and the North Carolina Tar Heels have been hitting their stride, coming out to a blazing 8-1 start on the season and No. 24 ranking in the country.
The Tar Heels are coming off an important series victory against a previously ranked East Carolina team, but now they look to their next challenge of the season.
The 7-2 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers await UNC for a three-game series on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If North Carolina wants to show that it is a force to be reckoned with in college baseball in the post-Mike Fox era, it will be important for the team to win matchups like this.
In the final few weeks before ACC play starts next Friday, the Diamond Heels will want to solidify their position as one of the best teams in the country before getting lost in the muck of conference play.
A 3-0 series this weekend would place North Carolina firmly in the driver’s seat in the early part of the season. There are a few important factors that will affect the Tar Heels chances of winning against the Chanticleers, though. These are some of those keys to look for in the series to come.
Sweet as Honeycutt
Vance Honeycutt has been the absolute standout of the first-year class on this team and has established himself as potentially the best batter on the team. In nine games played, Honeycutt has scored 15 runs –including five home run hits – and is batting a .414 average. The only game in which Honeycutt has not scored was in a 5-0 loss to East Carolina, the Tar Heels' only loss of the season.
Honeycutt has also provided good defense for the team on the infield and shown consistency throughout the season in his roles. Honeycutt will be a key component for this series as well as for the rest of the season for North Carolina. Based on his offensive production, the Tar Heels will depend on him to provide some scoring for the team.
Honeycutt’s scoring added with the superb play of sophomore Johnny Castagnozzi, who has been batting an excellent .452 on the season and has 11 runs of his own in nine games played, makes for a winning combo.
The duo stands to wreak havoc against the Chanticleers defense this weekend and stamp themselves as one of the best batting pairs in the country.
Home sweet home
The Tar Heels' lone loss came during their only time playing outside Chapel Hill this season, as all eight of the wins were home games.
For the Tar Heels, though, all three games of the series will be played in front of the friendly crowds at Boshamer Stadium. If the Diamond Heels are able to keep their home-field advantage going throughout this series, they will finish Sunday as an impressive 11-1 team with hopes of breaking into the top-20 in the country.
If they are not able to defend home-field, UNC could possibly drop out of the top-25 rankings.
Clearly much rides on this series, but the Tar Heels have shown themselves to be up for the season's challenges thus far in what will surely be an excellent matchup between two good teams.
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