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UNC softball uses first no-hitter in nine years to defeat UNC Wilmington 2-0

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First-baseman Kiersten Licea (1) narrowly snags the ball as it is hit to first base during a home game against UNCW. UNC won 2-0 on Tuesday, March 15, 2022.

The UNC softball team (15-10, 2-1 ACC) beat UNC Wilmington (17-4, 0-0 CAA) in a 2-0 shutout victory on Tuesday night at Anderson Softball Stadium.

What happened?

The bottom of the first inning started out with a bang for the Tar Heels. After junior center fielder Bri Stubbs walked to start the inning, senior catcher Taylor Greene lifted a pitch over the left-field fence, putting North Carolina up 2-0.

UNC had a big scoring opportunity in the bottom of the fourth, which saw sophomore left fielder Kiannah Pierce and first-year shortstop Alex Brown reach base on a walk and fielder’s choice, respectively. This put two runners on base with one out; however, UNC ultimately exited the inning with no runs scored after Kiersten Licea struck out and Kianna Jones flew out to UNCW’s Mary Sobataka at shortstop.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, UNC seemed poised to score as junior Katie Perkins stepped into the batter’s box to pinch-hit for Licea. With the bases loaded and one out, Perkins struck out looking. This brought up sophomore right fielder Kayla Baptista with two outs. Baptista grounded out to shortstop, ending North Carolina’s hopes of adding on some insurance runs heading into the seventh inning.

In the top of the seventh, after UNCW went three up three down, North Carolina pulled out the close victory.

Who stood out? 

Senior right-handed pitcher Hannah George had herself a night. Pitching the entire game, she earned her first career no-hitter and added seven strikeouts. She also had two walks, which came in the first and second inning. Besides Vitola’s bunt in the sixth inning, every inning after the second saw UNCW’s batters go three up three down thanks to George’s dominance in the circle.

On the offensive end, Greene was the clear standout. Her home run in the bottom of the first allowed UNC to jump out to an early lead, from which UNCW never came back.

When was it decided?

The only scoring of the game came in the bottom of the first when Greene blasted a two-run shot to deep left field, scoring herself and Stubbs. UNCW still had six frames to score after this but failed to produce any offensive momentum.

The top of the sixth inning saw UNCW put their first and only runner in scoring position after Vitola bunted for a single and subsequently stole second base, a hit that was later ruled as an error. Two back-to-back strikeouts by the next two UNCW batters ended the inning for the Seahawks, along with their one true scoring opportunity of the game. 

Why does it matter?

Tuesday’s shutout victory should give the Tar Heels some confidence heading into this upcoming weekend of competition. Ahead of a tough series against Virginia Tech, a team ranked as high as No. 5 in the USA Softball and ESPN polls, Tuesday’s win showcased the defensive prowess of George and the rest of the Tar Heels.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will travel to Lynchburg, Va. to face Liberty. The game is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.

@shelbymswanson

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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Shelby Swanson

Shelby Swanson is the 2023-24 sports editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as an assistant sports editor and senior writer. Shelby is a junior pursuing a double major in media and journalism and Hispanic literatures and cultures.