The North Carolina softball team (5-2) won its second game of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Saturday afternoon, beating Minnesota (4-4), 10-5.
The Tar Heels wasted no time to strike in the first inning. Fifth-year first baseman Kiersten Licea clobbered a pitch into left center, missing a home run by just a few feet. The double brought in two Tar Heels and delivered them the early lead. Each batter produced hard contact in the inning, but UNC could not produce any further damage.
Graduate transfer pitcher Bailey McCachren walked her first three batters and was quickly pulled for sophomoreCarlie Myrtle. A sacrifice fly brought in the Gophers’ first run of the game, but two groundouts back to Myrtle ended the high-scoring inning.
Licea’s hot start from the plate continued in the third. Leading off the inning, she drilled another pitch to left center, but this time managed to get the ball over the wall and double the Tar Heels' lead. The next batter, sophomore catcher Annie Kate Dalton, angled a double just inside the right field foul line but the Tar Heels left her stranded on third base.
The UNC lead did not last long, though. Despite registering two quick outs, a single and hit-by-pitch put two runners on for Minnesota. Designated hitter Addison Leschber cashed in with a three-run homer to dead center over the head of Bri Stubbs, giving the Gophers their first lead of the game. Senior third baseman Destiny Middleton ended the pressure by flashing her glove at the hot corner, preventing a potential two-run double.
In the fourth, UNC had a chance to strike back with a runner on second and two outs, but a diving catch by Minnesota’s Natalie DenHartog on the UNC logo in center field, robbed Middleton of a game-tying RBI.
The Gophers added to their lead with a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the frame, but Stubbs threw a dart to the catcher to prevent a second runner from scoring, keeping the deficit to just two.
UNC’s relentless attitude it have shown all season finally allowed them to tie the game in the fifth. Beginning with Licea’s third hit of the game and a heads-up stolen base, the Tar Heels scrapped together two runs and knotted the game up at five runs apiece.