The UNC softball team (21-21, 5-11 ACC) fell to the No. 4 Florida State Seminoles (38-4, 12-4 ACC), 2-0, on Friday night in Chapel Hill.
Senior right-handed pitcher Hannah George got the start for the Tar Heels, and notched two quick strikeouts. After FSU’s Mack Leonard drew a walk, UNC junior Destiny Middleton made a tough play on a line out to third base to hold the Seminoles scoreless in the first frame.
Despite two hits in the bottom of first inning, UNC was unable to record any runs thanks to FSU’s savvy fielding. This trend continued for the Tar Heels, as they were unable to capitalize on a walk and a single in the third inning, or a leadoff single by utility Kianna Jones in the fourth.
The bats were silent for both teams in the fifth inning, as both FSU and UNC went three up, three down. In the sixth, however, the Seminole bats were on fire. With four hits in the frame, FSU came out of the sixth inning with two runs thanks to the combination of a single from junior Devyn Flaherty and home run from sophomore Kalei Harding. Her two-run bomb proved to be the deciding moment of Friday’s game, as FSU would run away with the 2-0 win.
Who stood out?
Friday’s game was a pitcher’s duel from start to finish. FSU’s Kathryn Sandercock continued to show why she is one of the most dominant pitchers in college right now, throwing an absolute gem with a 1.36 ERA performance. She held UNC scoreless and gave up only one walk and one extra-base hit to record the win.
Despite recording the loss on Friday, George made the game tough for the Seminoles. She only allowed one more hit than Sandercock, and held FSU scoreless for most of the game.
On the offensive side, FSU’s Harding was the clear standout of the game, knocking a two-run blast in the sixth inning to give the Seminoles their only runs of the game.
When was it decided?
UNC was quick to punch back after giving up a home run in the sixth inning, as junior Bri Stubbs doubled to center field with one out. This put a runner in scoring position for the Tar Heels when they needed it, but North Carolina wasn’t able to capitalize on this late-game opportunity. The next two Tar Heel batters, Taylor Greene and Kianna Jones, grounded out and struck out respectively. This effectively ended UNC’s last chance to fight back in Friday’s game.
Why does it matter?
Despite the outcome of the game, Friday showed that the Tar Heels can match up with highly-ranked competition. UNC recorded five hits to FSU’s six, and took better advantage of advancement opportunities.
Ultimately, FSU’s ability to battle with two outs sealed the game. The Seminoles batted .364 with two outs, while UNC was 0-6 in two out situations. And Harding’s decisive home run in the sixth inning? That came after two outs.
When do they play next?
UNC will return to action Saturday for the second game of its home series against the Seminoles. The game is set to start at 2 p.m.
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