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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC softball defeats UConn, 8-7

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Sophomore Aneshia Jordan (23) prepares to bat during the UNC women's softball game against North Carolina A&T at Anderson Softball Stadium on February 23, 2022.

In its first of two games Sunday, the North Carolina softball team (11-9) inched out a win over the UConn Huskies (9-10), 8-7, at Anderson Stadium.

What happened?

After a difficult game against Oregon, senior pitcher Hannah George started with redemption on her mind. Despite a two-out walk, George’s laser pitches led to an errant hit by the Huskies which resulted in a fly-out. 

The strong start opened the door for the Tar Heel hitters to get on the board. 

Junior Bri Stubbs’ lead-off single was followed up by another single. The early success proved to foreshadow the offensive explosion that would occurred in the first inning. 

Moments later, Kiannah Pierce’s two RBI-double extended the lead to 3-0. The double marked just the second RBI of the season for the sophomore and was the first of four UNC doubles in the inning.

When it was all said and done, North Carolina racked up eight hits, and in the process, drove in six runs to explode to a 6-0 lead in the first. 

A pitcher's duel ensued the early-game excitement which saw George and Husky first-year Elise Sokolsky take advantage of lethargic bats from the two teams. For two straight innings, neither team registered a hit.

North Carolina showed flashbacks of its first inning barrage in the fourth. Graduate Sara Jubas missiled a ball to left field bringing home another run and increasing the lead to seven. 

Entering the fifth inning, sights of a mercy rule win for the Tar Heels seemed to be on the horizon. 

Yet, UConn had other plans. The Huskies broke their scoring drought when Aziah James single trickled into left field helping bring home her team's first run of the game.

In the ensuing at bat, Briana Marcelino’s double cleared the bases for UConn, scoring two more runs for the navy and gray, and slicing the UNC lead to 7-3. After almost a perfect start, George was replaced by first-year pitcher Carlie Myrtle who hoped to relieve the Tar Heels out of the jam. 

In just her fifth appearance of the season, Myrtle appeared rattled from the jump. After allowing a single to her first batter, Jana Sanden’s two-run shot clawed the Huskies back to within one. 

But, the Tar Heels responded well, tacking on another run in the sixth inning to stretch its lead to 8-6.

UConn first-year Rosie Garcia’s lead-off home run in the final inning appeared to ignite the Husky comeback. But, behind the pitching of Myrtle, the Tar Heels weathered the attack, and the Fayetteville native’s late strikeout clinched the win, 8-7. 

Who stood out? 

All of UNC’s hitters shined throughout the day, especially in the first inning. Jubas and Pierce lead the attack, combining for four doubles and RBI’s.

The standout duo displayed patience and power at the plate and played keystone roles in engineering the Tar Heel offense. 

When was it decided?

The first inning appeared to put the Tar Heels in great position to mercy rule UConn by the fifth inning. However, the persistent attack, led by Marcelino and Garcia, helped the Husky storm back in the fifth inning. 

A key insurance run, tacked on by junior Gaby Katz’s sacrifice fly-out proved to be the difference in North Carolina’s 8-7 victory. 

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Why does it matter?

The close victory gives the Tar Heels its first win of the weekend and snaps a two-game losing skid. The scoring display portrayed UNC’s ability to bounce back, as the team registered just a single run against Oregon just 24 hours ago. 

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels wrap up the Carolina Classic, Sunday afternoon, when they take on UNC Greensboro with first pitch coming at 5:30 pm.

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com