In the final game of the weekend’s series, the North Carolina softball team (19-17, 4-8) dropped its third straight game to No. 18 Clemson (25-10, 6-6), 12-4.
With first-year pitcher Lilli Backes starting at the mound in the first inning, the Tar Heels sent the Tigers’ first three batters to the dugout with a double play made by first-year utility Alex Brown and a strikeout.
Junior outfielder Bri Stubbs started hot, leading off the first inning at-bat with a double down center field. After advancing to third off a ground out by sophomore middle infielder Skyler Brooks, Stubbs was brought home by graduate shortstop Sara Jubas’ single down the left foul line for the first UNC run.
UNC kept the bats connecting in the first as senior catcher Taylor Greene followed with a single to left field, sending Jubas to third — where she was left on base at the end of the inning.
Clemson quickly responded in the second inning with a solo home run to right center field. Two-at bats later, they hit another to left center — bringing home two runs to give the Tigers a 3-1 advantage.
Then, the very next batter smashed the ball to center field — and it also went over the fence. Shortly after, senior pitcher Hannah George relieved Backes at the mound.
Clemson’s attack continued, however, as a double hit to center field brought another Tiger run home.
After one more run was walked in, Clemson’s second inning at-bat ended with a strikeout and a 6-1 lead.
The score remained through a quiet third inning until redshirt-sophomore pitcher Kianna Jones created a fourth inning spark with a double down right field. She was brought home shortly after senior first baseman Kiersten Licea singled in the infield.
Then, junior third baseman Destiny Middleton singled to right field, bringing home the Tar Heels’ third run putting them back in the game. Right field seemed to be the spot — as Stubbs hit there too, bringing Middleton in for a run.
Clemson extended out to a comfortable lead again in the fifth after costly walks set up base runners that were batted in. The Tigers hit another two-run homer to center field, prompting a pitching change to sophomore pitcher Talia Hannappel, and going into their next at-bat, the Tar Heels were down 12-4.
They struggled to get anything going, failing to score and eat away the deficit. After the third out, the game ended early.
Who stood out?
Stubbs had a great day from the plate — posting three hits and an RBI in three at-bats.
Jubas and Middleton also each had an RBI in the Tar Heels’ offensive effort.
When was it decided?
This game was decided in the top of the fifth inning. After the Tar Heels brought the lead down to just two, Clemson exploded for their second six-run inning of the game — putting it away for an early ending.
Why does it matter?
This is the second time the Tar Heels have lost three games in a row, and this weekend was definitely one of the worst stretches of the season.
UNC struggled greatly from the mound this series, seeing a multitude of home runs being scored against them — ultimately putting each game out of reach.
They will have to fix their pitching issues if the Tar Heels want to give themselves a chance to win in more ACC series down the stretch.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will travel to Charlotte on Wednesday, April 6 to face off against the 49ers.
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