At a time when ACC victories are crucial for teams’ postseason ambitions, it was another disappointing weekend for Virginia softball as the team dropped three games to conference rival North Carolina. The Cavaliers fell to 7-28, 1-11 ACC on the season, while the Tar Heels improved to 23-9, 9-2 ACC.
North Carolina overcame Virginia advantages to earn two come-from-behind victories, while the Tar Heels’ offense erupted to plate 49 runs over the course of the weekend and sweep aside the Cavaliers.
In the first game, Virginia flexed its muscles with four doubles and two home runs, but watched its lead disappear three times as the Tar Heels claimed a comeback win, 13-7.
Sophomore outfielder Iyana Hughes broke open the game as she laced a ball down the left field line to score junior Aimee Chapdelaine and freshman shortstop Allison Davis and give the Cavaliers a 2-0 lead in the third frame.
The Tar Heels later tied the game on a two run homer by freshman Taylor Wike, but freshman third baseman Lauren Heintzelman launched a ball into the left center stands to put Virginia on top 4-2 in the fourth.
The tug of war between the two teams continued as North Carolina scored two runs to knot the game at 4-4, before the Cavaliers added two more in the top of the fifth on three consecutive doubles to pull ahead 6-4.
Virginia looked as if it might run away win the game, but the Tar Heels plated nine runs in the sixth to take the lead for good. The Cavaliers managed a run in the top of seventh on a leadoff home run by Davis.
The Tar Heels’ offensive barrage continued in the second game, and North Carolina rolled to a 24-3 victory.
The Tar Heels immediately pounced on the lead with eight runs in the bottom of the first. North Carolina plated nine more in the second, five more in the third, and two more in the fourth, slugging 22 hits and seven home runs.
Virginia’s three runs came in the form of RBI singles by Heintzelman and Harris in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively, as well as a sacrifice fly by sophomore first baseman Kaitlin Fitzgerald.
In the series finale, the Tar Heels surmounted a Virginia lead to again claim a comeback victory, 12-4.
The Cavaliers surged ahead with three runs in the first two innings, as Hughes singled home Davis, who led off with a double, and Fitzgerald sent the ball darting down the right field line for an RBI triple. Sophomore infielder McKall Miller knocked in another run with a solo shot in the second.
North Carolina answered with two runs of its own in the second, but Virginia extended its lead when Harris reached home on a error in the top of the third.
Virginia’s defense again proved a difference-maker as the Cavaliers committed two errors and saw its lead vanish as the Tar Heels continued their trend of big innings with seven runs in the bottom of the third. Six of those runs were unearned.
A two run homer in the fourth cushioned North Carolina’s lead to 11-4, before a solo home run by senior Amber Parrish concluded the game in the bottom of the fifth.
While Virginia’s offense showed its potential, the Cavaliers dropped their fourth consecutive conference loss. Virginia will have a chance to earn some victories as they commence a 12-game homestand with a doubleheader against Western Carolina this Tuesday. First pitch is set for 3 p.m.
—compiled by Charles Siegel