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The Daily Tar Heel

Preview: UNC softball travels to Greenville to face ECU following back-to-back victories

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UNC outfielder and junior Bri Stubbs (27) runs to 3rd base during UNC's game against the University of Connecticut on Sunday, March 6, 2022. UNC won that meeting 8-7 as part of the Carolina Classic softball tournament.

After back-to-back victories at home on Sunday, the North Carolina softball team will travel to face Greenville for a game against ECU on Wednesday.

The Tar Heels have had an up and down start to the season with an overall 12-9 record. Just a few weeks ago, the team began its season with four straight wins at the Carolina Classic tournament. However, they ended the tournament on a tough note as they fell to Elon 4-3 to conclude the weekend. 

The second tournament of the season, The Spring Games, presented its own challenges, including a 2-0 shutout loss to Monmouth.

This past weekend, North Carolina hosted its only home event of the season which featured Penn State, Oregon, UConn and UNCG. The team began play with a rocky start, losing 12-0 against Penn State on Friday and again 9-1 against No. 12 Oregon on Saturday. However, the team persevered to turn it around, winning the last two games of the tournament by a score of 8-7 against both UConn and UNCG — momentum that should serve UNC well against ECU.

The Tar Heels have not fared well against ranked teams thus far, recording losses to No. 17 Missouri, No. 13 Georgia, No. 19 Michigan and No. 12 Oregon. They have yet to beat a ranked opponent.

ECU remains unranked following a tough start to its season. The team currently holds an 8-10 overall record and is on a two-game losing streak.

The Pirates’ most recent loss came on Sunday at Elon, where they lost in a low-scoring game 1-0 to the Phoenix. Two weeks ago, the Pirates lost 7-3 to Villanova, a team who the Tar Heels recently took down at 7-3.

As the Tar Heels look to continue their momentum going into this match-up, strong hitting, defensive prowess and pitching will be crucial. 

First, strong hitting: In recent wins over Villanova, UConn and UNCG, the Tar Heels recorded ten or more hits compared to their four hits in a 9-1 loss to Oregon. 

Fans should watch out for UNC's key hitters, notably junior Bri Stubbs, sophomore Skyler Brooks and graduate student Sara Jubas. Stubbs and Jubas both recorded three hits against UNCG and two against UConn. Their success has proven key for the Tar Heels' offense.

Defensive play will also be crucial in helping the Tar Heels secure a victory on Wednesday.  The win against Villanova last week was a “defensive” victory. North Carolina’s hard work on the defensive end stopped Villanova from getting anything through the infield.

The Tar Heels recorded 21 put-outs against Villanova with senior catcher Taylor Greene recording four on her own. But without strong defensive play, the team has consistently struggled. Greene had only one put out against Oregon with the team recording 15 in the loss.

Finally, North Carolina’s pitchers, especially first-year Carlie Myrtle and senior Hannah George will play a vital role against the Pirates. Myrtle has shown great promise in her first season. Myrtle currently holds the lowest earned runs average on the team with an average of 1.94. George leads the team in wins, holding a 7-0 record on the season. 

She is the team's highest-used pitcher, with 47.1 innings pitched and nine starts.

Consistency in these three areas combined with momentum from a winning end to play this weekend should ensure a Tar Heel victory against a cold ECU team. 

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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