March 29, 2008
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Behind the strong pitching of Lisa Norris and Danielle Spaulding, the #19/20-ranked North Carolina Softball Team (32-6-1, 7-1 ACC) picked up a doubleheader sweep of Georgia Tech (15-23, 2-6) 3-1 and 6-2 Saturday afternoon at a rainy and cold Anderson Stadium. Senior Brittany Barnes hit a solo home run in game one and senior Savannah Brown had a two-run shot in the night cap to account for the Yellow Jacket scoring. Brown is now just two RBI away from the all-time ACC record.
After a two-hour rain delay, the Tar Heels threatened with two on and just one out in the bottom of the first inning of game one, but senior pitcher Whitney Humphreys was able to get a strikeout and soft line drive to senior Brittany Barnes at third base to escape the jam.
After another 1-2-3 inning for the Jackets in the top of the second, Danielle Spaulding led off the bottom half of the frame with a solo home run to dead centerfield, her sixth round-tripper of the season.
UNC made it 3-0 with two more runs in the third inning, but it could have been a lot worse. With the bases loaded and one out, Spaulding picked up her second RBI of the day as she dumped a soft single into shallow centerfield. Humphreys got the second out of the inning when Whitney Allen reached on a fielder’s choice. She hit a ground ball to shortstop, but it was hit too soft for senior Aileen Morales to turn a double-play. Brittany McKinney then hit a soft flair into shallow left-centerfield that looked like it was going to fall in, but Tech senior centerfielder Stephanie Butler charged in and made a nice running catch to end the inning.
Trailing 3-0 now, the Jackets got their first base runner against UNC pitcher Lisa Norris when Morales led off the fourth inning with a walk. Two batters later, junior Blair Shimandle reached on an infield single giving the Yellow Jackets runners on first and second with one out. It was Tech’s first hit of the game. Senior Savannah Brown came up and hit a rope right at UNC centerfielder Breanna Brown for the inning’s second out and then Norris got junior Whitney Haller on a fly ball to right field killing the Jackets best scoring threat of the game.
Norris issued another leadoff walk to Tech in the top of the fifth inning. This time, Barnes earned the free pass. After freshman pinch runner Amelia Beach was sacrificed to second base by Weaver, senior Becky McCraw lined a single through the left side. Beach was waved home and a perfect one-hop throw in by UNC left fielder Jennifer Jacobs was able to nab her. And keep the score 3-0 Norris then got freshman Christy Jones to strike out for the inning’s final out.
The Yellow Jackets got another runner in scoring position in the top of the sixth, but were unable to break through into the scoring column. Butler singled with one out and went to second on a ground out by Shimandle, but Norris got Brown to hit a towering fly ball that right fielder Jennifer Jacobs was able to grab.
The game quickly moved to the seventh inning and the Jackets’ last at bat, but not without some excitement. Butler made another diving catch in left-centerfield to prevent a Tar Heel run as there was a runner on second base with two outs. Butler was moving towards left field with the ball slicing away from her and was completely out-stretched on the wet outfield grass when she snared in the line drive off the bat of Breanna Brown.
Georgia Tech finally got on the scoreboard with one out in the seventh as Barnes took a 3-2 pitch over the fence in left-centerfield. It was her sixth home run of the season moving her into a tie for the team lead with Weaver, but Norris got a pair of foul outs off the bats of Weaver and McCraw to end the game and snap the Jackets’ season-long five-game winning streak.
Norris (11-3) got the win as she allowed four Georgia Tech hits and two walks while striking out five. Humphreys (7-12) took the loss as she scattered 10 hits and two walk. Humphreys posted two strikeouts.
In the bottom of the first inning in game two, North Carolina capitalized on a pair of walks by Tech freshman pitcher Emily Schreck for a run. Emily Troup delivered a RBI double into the gap in left-centerfield. The Tar Heels still had runners at second and third with two outs, but Schreck was able to get Whitney Allen on a come-backer to retire the side and prevent any more damage.
With two outs in the top of the third inning, the Yellow Jackets ran into some bad luck. Jones reached on an infield single, the first base runner of the game for Tech. With Morales at the plate, Jones took off for second base on a 2-1 pitch. Morales hit a chopper that was headed for centerfield on the hit and run, but UNC shortstop Christine Knauer was moving towards the second base bag to cover and was in perfect position to field the ball and throw Morales out ending the inning.
UNC made it 2-0 in the bottom of the third inning as Breanna Brown led off with a solo home run to right field. It was Brown’s first home run of the season. The Yellow Jackets then got a runner in scoring position with one out in the top of the fourth, but could not break through against UNC pitcher Danielle Spaulding. Shimandle reached on a fielder’s choice with one out forcing Butler, who reached on an error, and then stole second base to get in scoring position. Spaulding got Brown to strikeout, but Barnes nearly tied the game. With the count 0-2, Spaulding tried to fool her with a change-up. Barnes was out on her front foot but still managed to drive the ball to deep left field. On most days, it probably would have tied the game for a two-run home run, but on this cold and drizzly late afternoon the breeze kept it in and Allen made the catch with her back up against the fence.
The Tar Heels started to get some breathing room in the bottom of the fourth inning. A two-run double by Brown made it 4-0 and then a sac fly off the bat of Jacobs gave Spaulding a five-run lead to work with.
UNC added another run in the fifth as a pair of Georgia Tech errors gave the Tar Heels an unearned run and it was now 6-0 and the Yellow Jackets down to their final six outs. With two outs in the sixth inning, the Jackets finally broke through into the scoring column. After Shimandle walked and stole second base, Brown hit a mammoth home run to centerfield. UNC centerfielder Breanna Brown didn’t even move as she just looked up and watched the ball sail well over the fence. For Brown, it was her fifth home run of the season. In addition, she now has 179 career RBI and is two shy of tying the ACC record of 181 set by Virginia’s Sara Larquier.
The Jackets were unable to get any closer in the seventh as Spaulding (10-1) was able to complete the sweep. She allowed the two runs on three hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Schreck (3-1) took her first loss in four starts this season as she was charged with six runs (five earned) on six hits. She walked six and struck out one.
Georgia Tech and North Carolina close out their three-game series tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. Live stats will be available via Gametacker at www.ramblinwreck.com.