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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC softball team crushed by South Carolina, 9-1, in Columbia

UNC fifth-year Kiersten Licea (1) hits the ball during the softball game against Elon at Anderson Stadium on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023. UNC beat Elon 9-5.

UNC softball dropped its eighth-consecutive away game in a 9-1 mercy rule  loss to South Carolina on Wednesday.

What happened?

North Carolina was off to a slow offensive start, with no hits or runs in the top of the first. The defense put up a better performance in the first inning, producing a double play and keeping the Gamecocks scoreless.

The first Tar Heel hit came in the top of the second from Kierston Licea. South Carolina also had a hit in the second, but after two innings, the game remained at 0-0.

The Gamecocks changed pitchers for the third, but UNC failed to find an offensive rhythm after this change. Sophomore pitcher Lilli Backes remained on the mound for North Carolina, but after allowing two runs and three hits to kick off the bottom of the third, she was replaced by Carlie Myrtle. Myrtle proved unable to mitigate the situation, and South Carolina came out of the third inning up 5-0.

Another single by Licea and a double by Kianna Jones put the Tar Heels on the scoreboard.  First-year pitcher Kenna Raye Dark became the third UNC pitcher of the night, but South Carolina adjusted to a new pitcher once again to heighten its lead to 8-1.

North Carolina continued to struggle at the plate in the fifth inning, batting three up, three down. The Gamecocks preserved some hope for a Tar Heel comeback when they also batted three up, three down to end the inning.

In a quick top of the sixth, UNC once again batted three up, three down. South Carolina had one run in the sixth inning to secure a 9-1 mercy rule win.

Who stood out? 

Licea found success at the plate with two hits, but this was a tough game all-around for the Tar Heels. 

When was it decided?

Both teams struggled to get the bats moving in the first two innings of Wednesday’s game, but the breakout third inning for South Carolina gave the home team a healthy lead. The Gamecocks continued their momentum in the next inning to advance the score to 8-1, which would be difficult for UNC to come back from. This made it clear that South Carolina would most likely hand North Carolina its eighth straight road loss.

Why does it matter?

The Tar Heels dropped all five games of the Joan Joyce Classic last weekend to drop below .500. UNC also hasn’t won an away game since kicking the season off at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge last month. After this tough road stretch, a win at South Carolina was essential in demonstrating that UNC can find success in away games. North Carolina won the last matchup between the two teams and three of the last four, but South Carolina led the series 50-17 heading into Wednesday’s game. The Tar Heels highlighted their continued struggles on the road in this mercy-rule loss.

When do they play next?

North Carolina will host the Carolina Classic against Purdue and James Madison University this weekend.


@dthsports |

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