CHAPEL HILL, NC— Winthrop softball battled its way to an 8-7 win at North Carolina, Wednesday evening at Anderson Softball Stadium.
The win improves the Eagles to 22-25 on the year while North Carolina falls to 35-12 on the year. The Eagles get back Big South action this weekend as they welcome Liberty for a three-game series that starts Friday, Apr. 21 with a single-game at 7 p.m. Saturday’s doubleheader will start at 2 p.m. with the first game airing on ESPN3.
“Everybody did their job, it was a complete team effort today,” said Winthrop co-head coach Mark Cooke “I thought we made some good defensive plays. I’m real excited for the players as our kids played so well and you can’t help but be proud of them. Everything was going good today.”
Winthrop jumped on the Tar Heels in the top of the first, loading the bases with one out. Morgan Lowers drew a walk to plate Paige Haley, who had walked to lead off the game. UNC did escape the inning allowing just one run as Leah Young grounded into a fielder’s choice as Maddie Antone was out at home on a force out throw from third base and then Ansley Gilreath struck out to end the threat.
The Eagles took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third as once again they loaded the bases with one out. Lowers drew a walk to load the bases and then Young walked to make it 2-0 as Covington scored. A grounder to second by Gilreath allowed Antone to score as the second baseman tried to tag Young going to second base but missed to keep the bases loaded. Brooke Ellison stepped in with the bases loaded and two outs as she fell behind 1-2 before finally drawing a walk after 11 pitches for a 4-0 lead.
In the fourth inning the Tar Heels closed the gap as Brittany Pickett made it a one-run game as she took the first pitch to left center for her ninth home run of the year. Romine had gotten two of the first three batters in the inning but then a two-out bunt single kept the inning alive for Pickett as it put runners at the corners.
Young hit her ninth home run of the season with one out in the fifth to respond for the Eagles as she took a 2-2 pitch to left. UNC did get one back in the bottom half of the fifth as Kendra Lynch singled to right with two outs with runners on first and second to cut the Winthrop lead to 5-4.
A fielding error in the top of the sixth led to a run for the Eagles as Haley scored to put the Eagles back up by two runs at 6-4. Haley singled with one out and then moved to second on a sacrifice. Antone grounded to third but an error kept the inning going as Haley came around to score. The Eagles added two more runs in the top of the seventh thanks to an RBI single from Majette and a sacrifice fly from Tara Loken.
Those insurance runs proved key as the Tar Heels made things exciting in the bottom of the seventh as Lynch hit a three-run home run, her 18th of the season. But Majette stayed strong and recorded a strikeout followed by a fly out to center to help the Eagles clinch the road win.
Majette tossed 3.1 innings of relief to earn the win and improve to 13-13 on the year after allowing four runs on four hits with two walks and two strikeouts. Romine was solid in 3.2 innings allowing three runs on two hits with three walks and two strikeouts to start the game.
Haley and Young each finished with two hits for the Eagles while Covington extended her hitting streak to six games and has now reached base in nine straight.
North Carolina used five pitchers as starter Sydney Matzko took the loss after allowing one run on one hit with three walks and a strikeout in 0.1 innings.