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UNC softball dominates N.C. State in home series finale, winning 16-4 in rubber match

The team celebrates a home run from utility player Kianna Jones (44). UNC beat NC State 16-4 at home on Sunday, March 27, 2022.

In a rubber match against the N.C. State Wolfpack (21-11, 3-8 ACC), the North Carolina softball team (17-14, 3-4 ACC) won 16-4 in a dominant game at home on Sunday.

What happened?

The Wolfpack took advantage of their at-bats early, with a home run by sophomore infielder Kaylee Lambrecht in just the third pitch of the game and UNC’s freshman pitcher Lilli Backes starting on the mound. 

A double and fly ball by N.C. State allowed them to advance to third base, but Backes held her ground to finish out the top of the first inning. 

To start off the bottom of the first inning, junior outfielder Bri Stubbs took a walk to first base and advanced to second when sophomore infielder Skyler Brooks singled to third base. 

Another walk by graduate shortstop Sara Jubas loaded the bases and all that was needed to tie the game was a pitch hitting senior catcher Taylor Greene while at-bat. 

The Tar Heels rose above the Wolfpack when sophomore outfielder Kiannah Pierce singled to left field and brought in two runs with her hit, making the score 3-1.

To finish out the inning, junior infielder Katie Perkins hit a single, allowing Pierce to run from third base to score. 

After three singles in a row to start off the bottom of the second inning for UNC, the bases were loaded with no outs, resulting in a pitching change for the Wolfpack.

North Carolina continued their scoring run when Jubas singled to left field and added two runs to the board, bringing the score to 6-1 in the Tar Heels’ favor. On an error by N.C. State, first-year Alex Brown reached first, while Brooks scored another run for UNC.

A beauty of a homer hit by redshirt sophomore Kianna Jones brought in a total of three runs for the Tar Heels, raising their lead to nine in a 10-1 game.

Still in the second inning, junior shortstop Destiny Middleton doubled for another North Carolina run and caused another pitching change for the Wolfpack. Middleton was able to score after a single by Brooks, and a home run by Jubas brought the game to 15-1 and an eleven-run second inning.

In the bottom of the third inning, a triple by Jones brought in one run and made it a 16-1 game.

N.C. State scored their second run of the game in the top of the fourth inning with a ball knocked out of the park by fifth-year pitcher Sam Sack.

In an attempt to come back from their scoring drought, the Wolfpack brought in three runs in the top of the fifth inning after another home run, making the score 16-4. This attempt was unsuccessful, however, as this ended up being the final score of the game.

Who stood out? 

On Sunday, Backes threw an extremely impressive game, as she stayed on the mound the entire time. Performing under great pressure, she put a stop to the Wolfpack and saved the Tar Heels multiple times throughout the game. 

When was it decided?

Until the second inning, the game could’ve flipped in either of the teams’ favor, but it only took loaded bases and a pitching error by N.C. State to open the flood gates of an 11-run inning.  

When the ball soared after a beautiful hit by Jones, three runs were brought in and the Tar Heels’ lead grew to nine and the scoring run didn’t stop for the rest of the inning, which signified North Carolina’s offensive dominance in this game. 

Why does it matter?

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Besides dominating the game that secures a series win for North Carolina, this will improve their standings in the ACC and their hopeful authority in future conference play.

This game also gave the Tar Heels the ability to display their growth and power in areas on the mound, behind the plate, and on the field.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will be staying home to host the Appalachian State softball team at 5 p.m. this Wednesday. 

@dthsports |