The UNC softball team (23-27, 6-17 ACC) fell to the Syracuse Orange (24-20, 6-15 ACC), 6-2, in the second game of its weekend series.
The Orange jumped out to an early lead thanks to the help of a four-run effort in the bottom of the second inning.
Shortly after Syracuse first-year Tessa Galipeau walked to start the inning, she was brought home thanks to a double from fellow first-year Laila Alves. This prompted a pitching change for the Tar Heels, as first-year righty Carlie Myrtle was brought in to pitch for first-year starter Lilli Backes. Despite this, Syracuse’s offensive onslaught continued, as the Orange loaded the bases and scored after two batters were hit by pitches. Finally, a single from graduate student Neli Casares-Maher scored Alves to put the Orange up 4-0.
After two scoreless innings, Syracuse added another run in the bottom of the fifth inning after Casares-Maher homered to left center field to make the score 5-0.
UNC finally tacked on some runs in the top of the sixth inning thanks to a double from senior first baseman Kiersten Licea, and pair of singles from junior center fielder Bri Stubbs and graduate shortstop Sara Jubas. Two UNC runners scored to cut Syracuse’s lead to three runs.
In the same inning, the Orange responded with a pair of doubles from sophomore center fielder Angel Jasso and first-year second baseman Kelly Breen, extending Syracuse’s lead to four runs. This is where the score would stay, as UNC failed to rally in the last inning, making the final score 6-2.
Who stood out?
Casares-Maher had another excellent outing in the second game of this series. Within four at-bats she totalled two hits and three RBIs, making her responsible for half of Syracuse’s runs on Saturday.
After her seven-inning effort on Friday, SU sophomore pitcher Lindsey Hendrix took to the mound again on Saturday to deliver another great performance for the Orange. She recorded the win and posted a 2.62 ERA. Hendrix was efficient at that, averaging just under 12 pitches per inning.
When was it decided?
In the top of the seventh inning, looking to battle back, junior third baseman Destiny Middleton reached base after being hit by a pitch. After advancing to second on a single from sophomore Carsyn Snead, Middleton turned and attempted to take another base. The throw from right field beat Middleton to third, and she was called out. This put a damper on the late UNC rally, and a strikeout from Licea ended the game shortly thereafter.
Why does it matter?
Saturday’s game gave Syracuse the series win, and ended UNC’s hopes of snapping its lengthy streak of series losses. The last time the Tar Heels won a series was against N.C. State in late March, and the team is 5-18 since then.
This loss also sets up a winner-take-all game three, as Sunday's game will decide which team will advance to the ACC Tournament.
When do they play next?
UNC will take on Syracuse in the third game of its series on Sunday, May 8, with the game set to start at 12 p.m.