After difficult losses to Clemson and Charlotte, the North Carolina softball team (19-18, 4-8 ACC) will need to bounce back as it travels to Kentucky this weekend to play three games against the Louisville Cardinals.
The Tar Heels have been up and down throughout the season, but with less than half of their games remaining, they are looking to keep their record above .500. Staying at this record will help the team moving forward, especially with the ACC Tournament right around the corner.
All eyes are on graduate shortstop Sara Jubas, who transferred in this season and continues to be one of the shining members of North Carolina's roster. She typically delivers productivity with her batting, managing to record at least one hit in the majority of the team's games.
Along with Jubas, junior outfielder Bri Stubbs has been shining throughout the season and looks to maintain her dominance. She has racked up six hits in her last four games, and the final game in the Clemson series was Stubbs' eighth multi-hit game of the season. Stubbs finished the series with the most hits on the team during those three games.
Going into this matchup, Stubbs' production in the batter's box will be key for UNC, and the numbers she's put up as of late would aid the team greatly if carried over to this weekend.
Louisville has a similar record to UNC at 19-15, so the teams are evenly matched for the most part.
The last time the Cardinals faced off against the Tar Heels was in May 2021, when each team won twice in a four-game series in Chapel Hill.
The Cardinals recently played N.C. State and won one out of three games, whereas the Tar Heels won two of three against the Wolfpack earlier this season. Though matchups and game plans will be different, the N.C. State series shows the level of parity between the Tar Heels and Cardinals.
In order for the Tar Heels to pull out a clean sweep, they must look out for righty pitcher Taylor Roby, left fielder Carmyn Greenwood, center fielder Korbe Otis and many other Cardinals who pose as threats.
Roby serves as both a pitcher and hitter and holds a 9-5 record individually as a pitcher. She also leads the team in home runs with 12, and she's second on the team in runs and third in hits. Greenwood leads the team with 49 hits to go along with her team-high 38 RBIs, and she's also hit 11 home runs of her own. Otis is top-three on the team in batting average, runs and hits.
The Tar Heels must avoid letting the Cardinals shine in the first inning. UNC let Clemson score four runs in the first inning of the opening game of the series and struggled to recover from the deficit. With time in between the 49ers game and the series against Louisville, North Carolina has a chance to rectify its issues and get back in the win column.
With the competition in the ACC, the in-conference pitching has been a true struggle for the Tar Heels. It is vital for the UNC softball team to step up to the plate to bounce back from a tough stretch of games.
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