The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Sunday, June 16, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Spring cleaning: How UNC sports are faring so far

20240224_Skvoretz_UNC-MGOLF-Wolfpack-Invitational-109.jpg
UNC redshirt junior Ryan Smith tees off at the 11th hole of Loonie Poole Golf Course green during the Wolfpack Invitational on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024.

The spring season is in full swing for many Tar Heel teams.

Over the last few months, many squads have entered their postseason runs and have been on the verge of making history or have been at the hands of devastating losses.

As these seasons come to a close and summer approaches, here's a roundup of what the spring teams have done so far:

Baseball

North Carolina entered its 2023 campaign ranked No. 11. But even with early top-15 rankings, the Tar Heels struggled as the season continued, finishing with a 14-14 record in the ACC, fourth in the ACC Coastal division and losing in the NCAA Regional Championship.

This year, the Tar Heels came back with a vengeance.

Ranked No. 15 to start the 2024 season, UNC notched a 22-8 record in the ACC. The Tar Heels clinched the ACC Coastal division title and the No. 1 overall seed in the conference. 

As UNC starts pool play in the ACC Championship on Thursday, the team holds the No. 7 ranking in the country. D1Baseball projects UNC will host an NCAA Regional Championship, creating a major advantage for the Tar Heels to make a deep postseason run.

UNC’s secret? Its high-powered offense.

No ACC team has hit more home runs in conference play than North Carolina’s 68. Four Tar Heels have notched 10 or more homers in conference play, including junior center fielder Vance Honeycutt, who set the record for the most home runs in school history on May 10.

Even as injury has prevented UNC from keeping a preferred starting pitcher — with both senior right-handed pitcher Jake Knapp and first-year left-handed pitcher Folger Boaz suffering season-ending injuries — its bullpen has stepped up whenever called upon to keep the team steady and in contention for its first trip to the College World Series since 2018. 

Women’s tennis

After winning the school’s first-ever national championship and a fourth straight indoor national title in 2023, North Carolina entered this season taking the preseason No. 1 ranking. For the senior class — which brought UNC to new heights — 2024 looked to be a season of coronation.

But the encore risked derailment at the ITA Indoor National Championship in February.

UNC lost to N.C. State in the quarterfinals and, in the process, lost sophomore Reese Brantmeier to a season-ending meniscus tear. All of a sudden, UNC looked to first-years Thea Rabman and Tatum Evans, the latter of whom was originally redshirting the 2024 season, to keep its repeat hopes alive.

The new blood answered the call.

Senior Reilly Tran said Rabman “was leading the senior out there” with her mentality. Evans came back from down a set to win the match that clinched UNC’s first ACC championship since 2021.

But Rabman and Evans could not stop No. 4 seeded UNC from suffering an upset in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals to No. 13 seeded Texas A&M on May 10. The 4-1 defeat marked the Tar Heels’ first loss at home in six years.

Of its 2023 national championship team, only Brantmeier and juniors Lindsay Zink and Carson Tanguilig are likely to return.

Men’s golf

Holding the No. 4 ranking in the country, North Carolina is a contender for an NCAA championship. The Tar Heels already won their first ACC Championship since 2006 in April. Now, they look to win the program’s first ever national title.

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

A grueling fall season featured trips to Georgia, Texas and even Scotland twice. But the Tar Heels persevered. Even when junior David Ford fell ill with a fever and couldn’t eat during the team’s first trip out of the country, the golfer made the putt to win the United States the prestigious Walker Cup.

Senior Peter Fountain struggled in the fall season but worked his way back into the lineup just in time to be the anchor in UNC’s lineup on the final day of the ACC Championship. There, he sank the match-winning putt to end the Tar Heels’ 18-year ACC title drought.

Now, having advanced past the NCAA regional, the Tar Heels look to make history.

CORRECTIONS: A previous version of this article misstated that the men's golf team traveled to California during the fall season and incorrectly listed that North Carolina won the Walker Cup. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for these errors.

@dmtwumasi

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com