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The Daily Tar Heel

Late-inning struggles plague UNC softball in 5-1 loss to Liberty

0301022_Crochik_Softball5.jpg
Sophomore middle infield player Skyler Brooks (24) prepares to bat during a UNC softball game against the University of Michigan on Tuesday, Mar. 1 2022. The Tar Heels lost 0-8.

The North Carolina softball team (11-20, 5-1 ACC) fell to the Liberty Flames (17-10) on Wednesday night by a score of 5-1.

What happened?

In the first frame, both the Tar Heels and the Lady Flames had a pretty silent start with senior center fielder Bri Stubbs being the only player able to produce a hit. In the top of the second, Liberty attempted to take advantage of the slow onset after Rachel Craine hit a double to center field that sent a runner to the plate, but a perfect relay kept the Flames off the board.

In the bottom of the second, junior right fielder Skyler Brooks capitalized on an error and advanced to first. Following a stolen base, junior left fielder Carsyn Snead laced an RBI single to left center to give the Tar Heels a 1-0 lead.

Throughout the third and fourth innings, North Carolina worked to keep Liberty off the bases. With junior pitcher Bailey McCachren only allowing two hits going into the bottom of the fourth, the Flames were unable to even the score. 

Although the Tar Heels had the opportunity to score in the fourth with two runners on base, sophomore shortstop Alex Brown was caught stealing and the inning ended with Brooks left on base. Going into the fifth, North Carolina remained up 1-0. 

After the Tar Heels allowed two walks in the top of the fifth frame, the Flames were able to score off a single from Rachel Roupe to center field and an error from Stubbs. With the Flames evening the score 1-1, the Tar Heels worked to keep the Flames from taking command and ended the inning with two runners on base. Although North Carolina tried to ignite a spark to take control, the fifth inning ended with the Tar Heels going three up, three down. 

Working off of the momentum from the fifth inning, the Flames quickly scored to take control. Leading off, Mary Claire Wilson hit the first pitch she saw to center field for a double. Following Wilson, Craine quickly singled to center field to advance Wilson home. After a succession of wild pitches and passed balls that advanced Savannah Woodard and Lilly Heidorn further along the diamond, Heidorn eventually reached home extending Liberty’s lead to two. 

In the top of the seventh, the Tar Heels’ chances of regaining the lead plummeted after a two-run blast from Megan Fortner expanded the lead by four. In the bottom half of the inning, UNC yielded only one baserunner and the team fell 5-1.

Who stood out? 

Brooks was a primary contributor at the plate, going 2-3 with a stolen base.

McCachren was solid in the circle, giving up just one run in 4.1 innings of work.

When was it decided?

After an unproductive five innings from the Tar Heels, Fortner’s homer in the bottom of the seventh acted as the nail in the coffin. 

Why does it matter?

After beating Appalachian State on Tuesday, the Tar Heels failed to preserve their momentum. As North Carolina heads into its third ACC matchup of the season this weekend, UNC drops to 11-20 on the season. 

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will open their three-game weekend road series against Boston College on Friday, March 24 at 3 p.m.

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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