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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC softball team drops first game of Virginia series, 3-0, in Charlottesville

UNC redshirt freshman Isabela Emerling (24) waits at first base during the softball game against Elon at Anderson Stadium on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023. UNC beat Elon 9-5.

The UNC softball team (13-23, 3-7 ACC) fell to Virginia (24-10, 5-5 ACC) Friday afternoon, 3-0, dropping the first game in the series.

What happened?

After two quick strikeouts to start the game, the Tar Heels managed two runners on base before sophomore Carlie Myrtle fouled out to the left fielder, ending the threat. Two walks in the bottom of the first inning also allowed Virginia to have runners on first and second. First-year pitcher Kenna Raye Dark struck the next batter out swinging to keep the game scoreless.

A mishap by the left fielder in the second inning allowed senior centerfielder Bri Stubbs to advance into scoring position with no outs. The Tar Heels once again could not convert, though. Fifth-year first basemen Kiersten Licea struck out swinging and the next two batters grounded out weakly to the infield. 

The bats went cold after this. Dark retired the Cavaliers in order in the second, and the Tar Heels went down quietly in the third. A double in the bottom of the inning, though, gave Virginia a runner in scoring position. Dark once again extinguished the danger by striking out the Cavalier swinging.

Virginia finally got on the board in the fourth. A walk followed by a double into the right-center gap put runners on second and third with only one out. A sacrifice fly to foul territory in left field brought in one run, and a two-out double just inside the left-field line brought in another. An error by sophomore shortstop Alex Brown capped off the three-run frame for the Cavaliers.

UNC’s offensive struggles continued in the fifth. Stubbs managed to get on base with a single, but two lazy fly balls into the outfield kept the Tar Heels off the board. Virginia also only managed a single in the bottom of the inning before being retired by Myrtle in relief.

In the final two innings, the Tar Heels could only produce one more baserunner, a walk by Licea in the sixth. Three quick groundouts in the seventh retired them in order, completing the shutout for Virginia.

Who stood out? 

Other than her difficult fourth inning, Dark pitched well in her 3.2 innings of work, stranding runners on base twice with clutch strikeouts. Myrtle also performed well in relief of Dark, pitching 2.1 innings and only giving up one hit. 

When was it decided?

The three-run fourth inning decided the game for the Cavaliers. Virginia pitcher Eden Bigham was in control all afternoon, finishing the complete game with 4 strikeouts and only 3 hits. UNC’s offense has been inconsistent all year, and its inability to produce with runners in scoring position plagued it today.

Why does it matter?

After earning its first conference series victory of the season last weekend against Boston College, the Tar Heels hoped to ride that momentum into the rest of the season. This is now UNC’s second-consecutive loss, bringing them to 10 games under .500 on the year.

The Tar Heels are currently ninth in the ACC with only the top ten qualifying for the ACC tournament. As the calendar turns over to April, time is running out for UNC if it wants to make a postseason run in 2023. 

When do they play next?

The two teams will play the second game in the series Saturday afternoon.


@dthsports |

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