It may not be the most illustrious blue blood rivalry, but a little Tobacco Road competition with N.C. State will bring the heat in any sport.
Following a narrow 12-11 win on Friday, the Tar Heels were stunned by a Wolfpack-record nine home runs in a lopsided 15-8 defeat the following day. One would think the Tar Heels would be irreversibly shaken, but they weren’t even fazed.
“We know we're going to get punched and punched, but we have to punch back harder,” head coach Donna J. Papa said.
With the losses still fresh on their minds, North Carolina was locked in and ready to get the job done once the clock hit 4 p.m. on Sunday. Through five innings of dominance, the Tar Heels coasted to a 16-4 mercy rule win.
This season, N.C. State has prided itself on the ability to hit the ball strongly and consistently. When N.C. State infielder Kaylee Lambrecht homered on just the third pitch of the game to give the Wolfpacks an early lead, it might have seemed as though UNC would yet again be victims to a Wolfpack scoring rampage.
Instead, the Tar Heels stood their ground. Thanks to stellar pitching from first-year Lilli Backes, the Wolfpack’s gates to scoring more runs were closed and locked.
The momentum picked up for UNC with four runs in the first inning, but the entire team shined once the bottom of the second inning began. With an already comfortable 7-1 lead, the Tar Heels had two runners on base as anticipation filled the air in Anderson Stadium.
With one swing of the bat, that anticipation burst as redshirt sophomore outfielder Kianna Jones launched a a three-run homer to break the game wide open.
“Our goal was like keep our swings short and know what your plan is going into the box to just get it done,” Jones said. “It was a lot of excitement and I think we were all fired up because having the ability to get ahead like that was great for our pitching staff and the entire team.”