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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. The eighth-seeded Virginia softball team (15-37, 6-15 ACC) is set to begin play in the 2008 Atlantic Coast Conference Championship at 3 p.m. Thursday against top-seeded North Carolina (49-9-1, 18-2 ACC) in Robert E. Taylor Stadium. All Championship games will be shown live on ACC Select at and live stats also will be available at

Virginia won its only ACC Championship title in 1994, led by then-senior Eileen Schmidt, who is currently in her first year at the helm of her alma mater.

The Cavaliers increased their conference wins from one in 2007 to six this season, and most recently closed out the final regular season series with a 2-1 win over Boston College on April 27.

Second-year Kelly Haller leads Virginia with a .307 batting average on the year. Carly Winger is second with a .305 average and leads the team in runs (25), triples (four) and RBI (25). Meghan O’Leary, who hits .298, paces UVa with 51 hits and 12 stolen bases. Lindsey Preuss and Sarah Tacke lead the Cavaliers with six home runs apiece.

Karla Wilburn has recorded a team-high nine wins in the circle for Virginia while also striking out 49 batters on the year.

North Carolina, currently ranked 13th in the nation, is coming off a series win at Virginia Tech that secured the Tar Heels the regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the tournament. After falling 5-2 to the Hokies in game one, UNC rallied to beat Tech 2-1 and 2-0.

Breanna Brown leads the Tar Heels at the plate with a .361 batting average and team-highs in runs scored (48), hits (59) and stolen bases (15-of-20). Cassie Palmer is second with a .322 average along with 38 runs and 57 hits. Danielle Spaulding hits .318 and leads UNC with 10 home runs, along with teammate Jennifer Jacobs, who has also belted 10 homers this season.

In the circle, Spaulding and Lisa Norris have each had solid seasons. Spaulding (15-2) has a 0.91 earned run average while Norris (17-3) has a 0.98 ERA. Both pitchers have struck out 185 batters apiece.

UNC swept Virginia earlier this season at The Park, winning 11-2, 6-1 and 7-1.

Win or lose, Virginia will play Friday against either the winner or loser of game four between No. 4 Georgia Tech and No. 5 NC State.

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