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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC softball loses 8-0 to Duke to wrap up weekend series

UNC freshman pitcher Lilli Backes (99) pitches the ball during the softball game against Florida State at Anderson Stadium on Saturday, April 16, 2022. UNC won 5-1.

The North Carolina softball team (10-19, 1-5 ACC) fell to No. 16 Duke (24-5, 7-2 ACC), 8-0 to wrap up its weekend series.

What happened?

Following a lead-off home run from the Blue Devils' Deja Davis, the Tar Heels were able to regroup and hold Duke scoreless for the rest of the inning. In the bottom half of the inning, North Carolina was unable to gain a spot on the scoreboard despite a hit by second baseman Abby Settlemyre. 

The Blue Devils loaded the bases in the top of the second and plated a runner off a hit to left field by Davis. The hit was followed by a passed ball by UNC redshirt first-year catcher Isabela Emerling, which led to another run. By the end of the inning, Duke put three runs on the board.

North Carolina quickly adjusted and changed pitchers in the middle of the second inning to sophomore Lilli Backes, a pitcher Duke has yet to see in this series. This allowed the Tar Heels to get out of the second inning, after a strikeout by Backes and an impressive snag by third baseman Destiny Middleton. 

Duke’s Jada Baker broke things open in the top of the third with a three-run homer to center field, giving Duke a 6-0 lead. 

The Tar Heels were outperformed offensively for the rest of the outing, and the team racked up more errors than the Blue Devils. North Carolina was unable to handle Cassidy Curd’s presence in the circle, which made the game seemingly less competitive than previous matchups between the two teams.

The Blue Devils held the Tar Heels for the next two innings, with Davis launching another ball over the center field fence in the top of the fifth. This brought in two more runs for Duke, making the score 8-0. 

Duke mercy-ruled UNC in the bottom of the fifth, which marked the Tar Heels' second such defeat this season. 

Who stood out? 

Curd was the standout performer, as she held the Tar Heels to just one hit through five innings.

Backes played a part in stopping the bleeding in the second inning for UNC, as she finished the afternoon with three solid innings out of the bullpen.

When was it decided?

Duke gained an early lead and effectively held the Tar Heels with no hits or errors in in the bottom of the second. This stunted the momentum of the Tar Heels, and Baker’s three-run shot put the game out of reach.

Why does it matter?

With the loss, UNC drops to 10-19 on the season and 1-5 in ACC play. The Tar Heels are now winless in their last eight matchups against the Blue Devils dating back to 2019.

When do they play next?

On Tuesday, the Tar Heels will head up-state to Boone, N.C. in a match-up against Appalachian State. 

@dthsports |

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