The Virginia Cavaliers softball team (13-21, 9-16 ACC) split a four game series against the North Carolina Tar Heels (12-15, 8-9 ACC) in Chapel Hill over the weekend. After UVA took game one and UNC took game two, the teams split a doubleheader on Sunday afternoon.
UVA won the first game of the series 5-4 by scoring the winning run in the 7th inning. It was a sloppy game where the teams combined to commit seven errors, and only five of the nine total runs were earned. The Hoos pushed across two runs in the top of the first when Katie Goldberg hit a homer, and then in the second inning Arizona Ritche scored on a fielding error to put the Hoos up 3-0. The Tar Heels responded when Kiannah Pierce hit a sacrifice bunt and ended up coming around to score with Kayla Baptista because of two fielding errors on the play. After UNC tied the game in the third inning, the two teams traded runs, with the Hoos getting the last laugh in the top of the seventh. Abby Weaver reached on an error, advanced on a wild pitch and then a sac bunt, and scored on a fielder’s choice, so the Hoos managed to score without registering a hit in the inning. Mikayla Houge pitched 5.2 innings and Clare Zureich got the win in relief for the Hoos, while Gabby Katz took the loss in the complete game for the Tar Heels.
In game two, UNC used nine hits to win by a score of 7-2. UVA pitcher Aly Rayle took the loss and gave up four runs in 2.2 innings of work, and Mackenzie Wooten gave up three more runs in relief. UNC’s Katie Grace Olinger pitched a complete game and allowed three runs on six hits to earn the victory.
Kiannah Pierce hit a triple and scored on a sac fly in the bottom of the first, and then Dominique Monteon homered in the second for the Tar Heels. Defensive miscues once again plagued the Cavaliers, as both runs in the third were unearned after a throwing error. Emma McBride drove in the UVA’s first run in the fifth with a single, but then the Tar Heels put up three runs in the sixth on a double from Taylor Puetz and a two-run homer from Brittany Pickett. In an attempted comeback down 7-1, UVA’s leadoff hitter Abby Weaver crushed a two-run homer, but there wasn’t enough offense to keep pace with UNC. Weaver had a seven game hit streak snapped later in the series, but was an offensive force in this game.
UNC’s offense generated eleven hits and pushed across eleven runs in the 11-6 victory in game three. The Hoos used four pitchers who all gave up runs, and Molly Grube was the losing pitcher in the contest. For UNC, Gabby Katz gave up six runs in six innings of work, but her offense supported her enough to get the win.
The Tar Heels scored three runs in the first inning, and two were unearned on a throwing error, a continuous trend in the series and throughout the season for the Cavaliers. UVA responded with four runs in the third inning to take the lead, and all four runs in the inning were unearned, courtesy of two errors. Katie Goldberg hit a two-RBI single in the inning. The Cavalier lead would be short-lived, as UNC scored two runs in the bottom of the third, three runs in the fifth, and three runs in the sixth to pull away. Campbell Hutcherson hit a three run homer in the sixth inning and paced her team, going 3-3 with 3 runs and 4 RBI.
Finally, an offensive onslaught in the early innings of game four helped the Virginia Cavaliers jump out to an early lead, and then they were able to hold on for the series split, winning 8-5. UNC scored an unearned run in the first inning, but the Hoos came storming back with a six run second inning. Highlights included a two-run homer from Katie Goldberg and a solo home run from Kate Covington. UVA added to the lead in the third courtesy of a two-run triple from Emma McBride. McBride went 3-4 and has been a consistent threat batting second in the lineup recently. UNC scored four unanswered runs to attempt a comeback, but winning pitcher Mikayla Houge held onto her lead and Madison Harris came in for the save.
The most noticeable trend of the series was the huge number of defensive miscues. There were 18 combined errors committed in the four games, and out of the 49 total runs scored, only 30 of them were earned. Joanna Hardin’s team will need to clean up the defense as UVA travels to South Bend, Indiana to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish next weekend.