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Softball looks to bounce back against North Carolina

Streaking Tar Heels enter weekend winners of seven of last nine games

The Virginia softball team continues conference play this weekend, as they take on ACC rival North Carolina at the Park in Charlottesville, Va.

The Tar Heels (22-19, 7-8 ACC) are playing some of their best ball of the season, having won seven of their last nine games. Virginia coach Blake Miller knows that the Cavaliers (13-27, 3-8 ACC) need to play with discipline on offense and focus on defense in order to take down the Tar Heels.

“We just got to get back disciplined, more how we were in that first game against Syracuse and go drive the ball in the gaps, so it’s pretty simple,” Miller said. “It’s all based on us, and then play some defense behind [freshmen pitchers Erika Osherow and Lacy Smith].”

A major problem Virginia faced last week against the Orange was with slow starts, as Virginia allowed Syracuse to jump out to quick leads in all three games of the series. That forced Virginia to play from behind the entire series.

“Biggest thing we got to do is, we got to pitch well, right off,” Miller said. “Really our pitchers need to come out work on top, really in those first innings; if they come out work on top we’ll jump right out.”

Virginia struggled in the circle last weekend, and Miller is fully aware of the mistakes his pitchers need to avoid against North Carolina.

“We let some of those lefties last weekend cause a little thorn in our side and we didn’t keep them under control, and really that’s the base,” Miller said. “We keep those leadoff batters off and like any game, any team when you keep those people that score runs off base, then usually it stifles an offense right there.”

Virginia’s pitchers look to get back on track, and as the season begins to wind down, they will need to rely on their experience throughout the season to help them stay poised and confident on the mound.

“They’ve matured quite a bit as far as these pitchers,” Miller said. “These pitchers, they went through that, they’ve had to take some lumps and go through a season of just, as freshman, so they’ve become a lot more confident on the mound.”

It will be a tough series, and Virginia will need that confidence to help limit North Carolina’s offense. On the other hand, Virginia’s offense will need to stay focused at the plate in order to play well, something they did fairly well last weekend, putting up 17 runs against Syracuse in three games.

“Biggest thing is we just got to stay disciplined, stay disciplined at the plate, and, it’s moving along,” Miller said.

Virginia will take on the Tar Heels in a doubleheader Saturday, with the first game being played at 3 p.m. and the second game being played at 5 p.m. The series finale will take place Sunday at 12 p.m.