The North Carolina softball team (19-15, 4-5) lost to No. 18 Clemson (23-10, 4-6) 12-4 in the Tar Heels’ first game of a weekend-long series with the Tigers.
After allowing four hits and one home run at the top of the first inning, UNC found itself trailing by four runs heading into the bottom of the first inning.
The Tar Heels’ cut Clemson’s lead down to 4-1 in the bottom of the first inning after junior outfielder Bri Stubbs scored on a wild pitch.
Desperately needing a stop, the Tar Heels made a double play to hold the Tigers to just one run in the second inning. UNC couldn’t capitalize on its much improved defensive play in the second inning, however, as they neither scored in the second inning nor recorded a hit.
The Tar Heels gave up another run in the third inning and held Clemson to just one hit, but UNC didn’t score a run in their second consecutive inning and went into the fourth inning, trailing by five runs.
Despite a much improved defensive performance in the second and third innings, the Tar Heels’ defense buckled in the fourth inning. They gave up their second home run of the game and two runs during the inning. UNC was held scoreless for a third straight inning and went into the fifth inning trailing 8-1.
The Tar Heels put together their best inning of the game with their backs against the wall in the fifth inning. First-year pitcher Carlie Myrtle entered the game in the fifth inning and gave up zero hits and tallied one strikeout while holding the Tigers to their first scoreless inning of the game.
Myrtle carried her momentum over into the sixth inning, allowing just one Clemson hit and holding the Tigers to zero runs for a second straight inning. At the bottom of the sixth inning, the Tar Heels couldn’t capitalize on their strong defensive performance in the top of the inning, scoring zero runs in an inning for the fourth time in the game.
UNC fell to its worst deficit of the day after giving up four runs in the top of the seventh inning and went into the bottom of the inning needing 10 runs to send the game to extra innings. The Tar Heels couldn’t overcome the deficit despite their efforts and fell to the Tigers 12-4.
Who stood out?
Stubbs was one of the few brights spots in an otherwise gloomy outing for the Tar Heels, as she scored one of the team’s four runs and recorded one of the team’s six hits. Stubbs also contributed an RBI that gave UNC its second run of the game and three putouts while playing in the outfield.
Myrtle also made her presence felt against the Tigers, recording one strikeout and allowing one hit over two innings pitched. Myrtle did give up a three-score home run in the seventh inning that marred an otherwise strong performance.
When was it decided?
The game was likely out of reach after the fourth inning when the Tar Heels trailed 8-1, but any comeback chances UNC had were likely squelched when they allowed four runs at the top of the seventh inning to fall behind Clemson 12-2.
Why does it matter?
Aside from giving the Tar Heels their 15th loss of the season, the loss seems to highlight a significant concern surrounding the team heading into and before the season — batting and hitting.
UNC ranked third-to-last in total hits among ACC teams last season, and the team especially struggled at-bat against more challenging in-conference pitchers.
While the Tar Heels have hit well this season against ACC opponents such as NC State and Boston College, managing just four runs and six hits against the Tigers likely raises concerns that the hitting struggles that hindered UNC last season may carry over into this season.
When do they play again?
The Tar Heels look for redemption against the Tigers on Saturday at 2 p.m. in the second game of the weekend-long series.
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