Heels dominate weekend, score 24 runs

The Virginia softball team finished its last home series on a sour note this weekend, being swept by North Carolina 11-2, 6-1 and 7-1.

"UNC is a great team; they're No. 1 in the conference for a reason," senior outfielder Meghan O'Leary said. "They come out and play hard every inning and every at-bat."

The series started inauspiciously for the Cavaliers (13-31, 4-11 ACC) when ACC leader North Carolina (40-8-1, 13-1 ACC) scored six runs in six hits and one walk off pitcher senior Whitney Holstun in the first inning Saturday before freshman Allee Rife replaced Holstun. The Tar Heels added to their lead with four more runs in the third before Virginia got on the scoreboard with a home run from junior Sarah Tacke. A second run in the fourth did little to abate the Tar Heel onslaught, and the game ended 11-2 after the fifth inning? behind a solid performance from Tar Heel junior pitcher Lisa Norris, who had five strikeouts and allowed only five hits in five innings.

Though the Tar Heels pitchers out-threw the Virginia staff throughout the series, the Cavaliers fared better during the second game of Saturday's doubleheader, finishing all seven innings and holding the Tar Heels to two runs in the first three innings and six overall for the five-run loss. While North Carolina junior Amber Johnson pitched the entire game and allowed the Cavaliers only five hits and one run, Virginia junior starting pitcher Karla Wilburn gave up eight hits and five runs in four innings, and Holstun finished the game with a five-hit, one-run effort.

Freshman Alison Pittman scored the Cavaliers' only run in the sixth on a North Carolina fielding error.

Virginia started Wilburn on the mound Sunday and brought Holstun in relief, achieving a similar result, a 1-7 loss. The two pitchers gave up a combined 12 hits and four walks for seven runs. North Carolina sophomore Danielle Spaulding outclassed Wilburn and Holstun with a 14-strikeout, complete-game effort, holding the Cavaliers to only one hit and adding to the Tar Heels' lead with a homer in the seventh.

The only hit the Cavaliers managed in the third game of the series yesterday was? a home run by junior shortstop Carly Winger.

Offensively, the Tar Heels out-hit the Cavaliers by a factor of at least two to one throughout the series. North Carolina's 12 hits in game one yielded 11 runs while Virginia's five hits generated only two.

The bright spot of the weekend was the Cavaliers' defense, which had four errors total throughout the series.

Despite their defensive performance, the Cavaliers' pitching and hitting could not compete with the Tar Heels'.

"Defensively we did OK," O'Leary said. "But we didn't put up the hits that we needed to."

Yesterday's game also marked the last time that seniors Holstun, O' Leary and Lindsey Preuss, as well as junior Kierstie Cameron, will play at The Park.

"I'm very proud to have coached them," coach Eileen Schmidt said. "When you look at that group, they're your typical U.Va. hard-working kids that really have bright, bright futures in front of them."

O'Leary said she was happy with the performance of the Cavaliers this season.

"I can close the door on this and walk away and kind of be satisfied," O'Leary said.

The Cavaliers have eight more games in the season including two ACC conference series against Maryland and Boston College.

O'Leary noted that the final two ACC teams are definitely ones the Cavaliers can beat.

"It's been a tough weekend and it's a weekend that we need to put behind us," O'Leary said.

Without a midweek game coming up, Schmidt said the Cavaliers will spend the next six days reviewing the basics and looking to upcoming games.

"With these two weeks left we're just going to dig our heels in and go to work," she said.

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