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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC softball defeats N.C. State 12-11 in first game of home series

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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.

The North Carolina softball team (17-13, 3-4 ACC)  defeated the N.C. State Wolfpack (20-11, 2-8 ACC) 12-11 in their first matchup of a three-game series at home Friday night. 

What happened?

The Wolfpack got off to a hot start and came out swinging in the first innings of the game. In the top of the second, N.C. State brought in three runs batted in. To bring the team’s total runs up to five in the third inning, first-year infielder Michele Tarpey homered to left center, allowing another run to come in after her.

Although the game started out slow for UNC, a double to center field by senior catcher Taylor Greene allowed the Tar Heels to advance to second and third base. Junior shortstop Destiny Middleton ran home to score the first run of the game in the bottom of the third inning. 

To keep the momentum going, sophomore outfielder Kiannah Pierce doubled to center field to bring in two more runs for North Carolina. The next at-bat was sophomore outfielder Aneisha Brown, who doubled to center field and allowed Pierce to score.

The Wolfpack didn’t stop their scoring spree, however, and scored a total of two runs in the top of the fourth inning, making the score 7-4 in their favor. 

Once North Carolina stepped up to the plate, the team displayed their fighting spirit and made it a tie game, with three Tar Heels bringing runs in. 

Brown’s single to second base added another run to the board, but the score became 11-7 in UNC’s favor after Kianna Jones’s home run soared out of center field and ushered in three more runs for North Carolina to end the fourth inning. 

To tie the game up once again, N.C. State scored another four runs in the fifth inning with no outs on their side yet, which prompted a pitching change from sophomore Tianna Hannappel to freshman Lilli Backes. 

The Tar Heels rose above the Wolfpack once again when Pierce singled and sophomore infielder Skyler Brooks ran to score in the fifth inning, making it 12-11. 

This run may have not secured the win officially at the time, but the score stayed this way until the end of the game, giving the Tar Heels a win for the first game of the series.

Who stood out? 

On the offensive side, multiple Tar Heels performed and brought in the necessary runs. Jones’s home run to tie the game in the fourth inning gave the Tar Heels the energy they needed to persevere throughout the entire game. Once Brooks ran in to score, the Tar Heels handed defeat to the Wolfpack. 

When the Wolfpack started to come back after a major scoring run in the fifth inning, Backes held her ground under pressure and defended the mound when it was needed. 

When was it decided?

With the game neck and neck through each inning, it wasn’t decided until the bottom of the fifth inning when the tie finally broke.

When Brooks ran home to score in the fifth inning, the score finally turned in the Tar Heels’ favor and gave North Carolina the run they needed on the board to win. 

Why does it matter?

Not only does this series mean competing against an ACC opponent, but also brings along the sweet taste of rivalry. 

Currently, the Tar Heels sit three places above N.C. State in the ACC rankings despite both teams struggling with the fierce competition in the conference so far. 

The last time these two teams met was in the regular season in 2018, with North Carolina winning the series 2-1. This game signifies a win for UNC in this Tobacco Road rivalry series and gave them the stage they needed to display their spectacular potential. 

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When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will host N.C. State in Anderson Stadium for their next game of the series at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com