UNC softball (23-23, 6-13) fell 4-1 in the first game of a three-game series at No. 20 Notre Dame (33-9, 11-5) on Friday.
In the beginning of the game, UNC had one hit in the top of the first by junior outfielder Bri Stubbs and didn’t allow any hits in the bottom of the first. However, North Carolina failed to record a hit in the second, and the Fighting Irish took the lead with an RBI in the second inning.
UNC also struggled at the plate in the third while Notre Dame had an additional two hits. Sophomore midfielder Skyler Brooks ended the hitting drought in the fourth with a single to third base, but the Tar Heels failed to even the score. Luckily for them, the Fighting Irish did not extend their lead in the fourth inning.
North Carolina did not make it out as easily in the fifth. Sophomore outfielder Kiannah Pierce started the inning out with a single, but once again, UNC failed to earn a place on the scoreboard. Notre Dame scored twice to gain a third-point lead over the Tar Heels.
The Tar Heels had their best offensive performance in the sixth, with a double by graduate student shortstop Sara Jubas. Sophomore outfielder Carsyn Snead pinch-ran in Jubas’ place and was able to score unearned due to a Fighting Irish fielding error. Refusing to relinquish the lead, Notre Dame had a run of its own to make the score 4-1 after the sixth.
UNC failed to do anything at the plate in the seventh, dropping its first game of the series to Notre Dame 4-1.
Who stood out?
Despite a tough loss, sophomore pitcher Talia Hannappel did her job at the mound. Hannappel was UNC’s starting pitcher and allowed only one hit and one run in her two innings pitched. The four Tar Heels who had hits on Friday also served as a valuable asset to the team in an otherwise slow offensive game for North Carolina.
When was it decided?
UNC did not get out to a hot start on Friday to open the series. Though the defense was strong, with a perfect fielding percentage and a double play, the offense was lacking. North Carolina hit .160 compared to Notre Dame’s .385 and only had four total hits in Friday’s matchup. With a weak Tar Heel offense and an early Notre Dame lead, it quickly became clear which ACC team would win this series opener.
Why does it matter?
After this weekend’s ACC series, North Carolina only has one more series before the ACC Tournament. Both the Notre Dame series and the upcoming Syracuse series are away. UNC has struggled on the road this season, with a 4-9 away record coming into this series. The team is also dangerously close to having a losing record, with a .500 win percentage after today’s loss. The Tar Heels will need to have success on the road to stay above .500 going into postseason play.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels’ series at Notre Dame will continue with the second game tomorrow at 1:00 p.m.
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