Cavaliers Edge No. 22 North Carolina, 5-4
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia softball team (20-13, 6-0 ACC) remained unbeaten in Atlantic Coast Conference play after edging No. 22 North Carolina Friday at The Park. Senior Nicole Koren hit two home runs in the winning effort, including what proved to be the game winner in the bottom of the fifth inning.
The win over North Carolina is the first for Virginia since the 2005 campaign; UNC had claimed the previous 14 meetings between the two teams. The victory also marks the fourth win for the Cavaliers over a ranked opponent this season.
The Tar Heels dropped to 26-12 overall, including a 4-6 mark in league play.
Virginia outhit UNC 8-7 in the contest, led by two-hit performances from both Koren and Alison Pittman, who notched two singles. Tacke also homered – her fifth of the season – while Clara Kendall, Lauren McCaskey and Abby Snyder also tallied hits.
Freshman Melanie Mitchell improved to 16-9 on the year with another complete game performance in the circle. She finished with four strikeouts.
The Cavaliers got started early, scoring two runs on back-to-back solo homers from Koren and Tacke in the first inning.
UNC answered with a run in the second and another in the third to tie the contest at two. Then in the fifth, the Tar Heels managed to take a 5-3 advantage after Stephanie Murad had a pinch-hit two-run homer to give UNC the lead.
Then it was Virginia’s turn to answer. In the bottom half of the inning, freshman Taylor Williams reached on a fielding error and moved to second on Giannina Cipolloni’s sacrifice bunt. McCaskey singled through the right side to score Williams. Koren, the next batter, then homered to left center, a two-run shot as the Cavaliers took a 5-4 lead.
North Carolina put leadoff hitter Christine Knauer on to commence off the top of the seventh after she singled up the middle. Knauer then stole second and moved to third on a Murad flyout to right. With a runner on third and one out, Mitchell was able to get the next two batters, Ally Blake and Kelli Wheeler, to ground out to short. The last batter, Wheeler, was thrown out by Kendall from her knees and McCaskey scooped up the ball at first to get the runner and give UVa the win.
Amber Johnson took the loss in the circle for the Tar Heels; she threw all six innings and finished with six strikeouts.
Virginia and North Carolina conclude the series with a doubleheader at 1 p.m. Saturday. There will be an Easter egg hunt on the field following the second game and a chance to meet the team during a postgame autograph session.