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Virginia softball crushed by Tar Heels

Cavaliers handily swept by North Carolina

Virginia softball was easily brushed aside by North Carolina this weekend as the Tar Heels (21-16, 12-5 ACC) effectively shut down the bats of the Cavaliers (4-32, 1-16 ACC) en route to a three-game sweep.

“We got the pitches we were looking for,” coach Blake Miller said. “We didn’t capitalize on them — we saw the pitches, but we didn’t hit them.”

North Carolina won game one, 7-0, behind a complete-game shutout by senior Lori Spingola. She allowed only four hits and recorded four strikeouts. Redshirt sophomore first baseman Jenna Kelly also did major damage at the plate — going two-for-four with five runs batted in. Her grand-slam off sophomore Aimee Chapdelaine capped off a five-run fifth inning.

Virginia loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the fourth. Consecutive singles by freshman shortstop Lindsay Mayer and second baseman Madison Labshere put runners on first and second, and fellow freshman catcher Katie Park was hit by a pitch to fill the bags. Nothing would come of this scoring opportunity, though, as Park was forced out at second following a grounder by senior outfielder Stephanie Harris.

Later, in the bottom of the sixth inning, freshman outfielder Iyana Hughes tripled with one out. The Cavaliers squandered another opportunity to put a run on the scoreboard when Mayer and Labshere struck out swinging to strand Hughes at third.

“The hitters needed to stay disciplined and remember the plan,” Miller said. “They missed the pitches they knew were coming, and if you miss pitches, things aren’t going to work out.”

Game two was a pitcher’s duel between Cavalier senior Marcy Bowdren and Tar Heel freshman Lauren Batten. Bowdren threw no-hit ball into the sixth inning, when senior outfielder Amy Nece singled with one out for the Tar Heels’ first hit. Nece would advance to third on a ground out and passed ball and then stole home for the game’s first run.

North Carolina’s second — and final — hit of the contest occurred later in the same inning, though it was notably a two-run homer off the bat of junior catcher Amber Parrish. Bowdren left the game following the sixth inning, taking the loss. She gave up three runs on two hits with four walks.

The Cavaliers attempted a rally in the sixth frame. Hughes walked and advanced to third on a Mayer single. Hughes would come in to score on a fielder’s choice by Labshere. The rally fell short, though, when Park hit into a double-play to end the inning and the scoring as Virginia went away quietly in the seventh inning to lose 3-1.

Bowdren was not be as sharp in game three, and was replaced by Chapdelaine without recording a single out in the first inning. Bowdren (0-3) was charged with the loss and gave up three runs on three walks.

“Bowdren did a great job [in game two], but today was rough for her,” Miller said. “She had a hard time getting balls over the plate, but I know she’ll come back and throw well for us again.”

Coming in relief, Chapdelaine allowed three more runs to score in the opening inning before setting down and only allowing two more runs in the remaining four innings of work.

Spingola would again mystify the Virginia batters, yielding only two hits in four shutout innings to earn her 15th win of the season. Both hits came in the second inning — Park laced a clean single into left field with one out, and one batter later Harris ripped a double to the outfield wall. After an aggressive turn at second base, she was almost thrown out but managed to slide back into the bag.

The senior marked one of the lone bright spots for the Cavaliers this series. She collected three of the team’s 12 hits this weekend.

“We’ve been working on isolating the plate and looking for one pitch” Harris said. “I also worked on improving my timing. When you put those two together, they equal hits.”

The Tar Heels tacked on runs in the third and fourth inning to increase the margin to 8-0. Freshman Kendra Lynch pitched a clean fifth inning to wrap up the game.

Virginia will host Delaware State in a midweek doubleheader this Wednesday. Game one is set to begin at 3 p.m.