April 6, 2012
In front of a season-high crowd, the Virginia softball team (19-15, 5-5 ACC) was edged by No. 23 North Carolina 3-2 Friday in the first of the three-game series. It was the 100th all-time meeting between the two schools.
The Tar Heels outhit Virginia 7-3 for the contest, despite 12 strikeouts from junior pitcher Melanie Mitchell. Sophomore Lori Spingola also had 12 strikeouts for UNC.
The Cavaliers were led at the plate by junior Taylor Williams, sophomore Stephanie Harris and freshman Megan Harris, who all singled. Senior Giannina Cipolloni had the team’s lone RBI.
North Carolina put up three runs in the top half of the third on four hits and one Virginia error. With two outs, Ally Blake homered to center field. Constance Orr followed with a single up the middle and Logan Foulks singled to left; both runners moved up a base when Williams bobbled the ball in left. The next batter, Haleigh Dickey, singled to right scoring both Orr and Foulks, as the Tar Heels took a 3-0 lead.
Virginia would get two runs back in the bottom of the fifth. Megan Harris singled up the middle to lead off the inning and freshman Rachel Gillen walked to put two runners on base. After junior Lauren Didlake came on to run for Gillen, classmate Kristen Hawkins laid down a sacrifice bunt and reached on a throwing error that also allowed Harris to score and Didlake to take third. Then with one out, Cipolloni flied out to center and Didlake tagged from third to score. Hawkins was left stranded on third base as Williams struck out to end the threat, but the Cavaliers cut the lead to 3-2.
The Tar Heels took their one-run lead into the bottom of the seventh inning, where Virginia threatened again. Gillen started things off with a walk and senior Stephanie Coates came on to run. Hawkins sacrificed Coates to second. With two outs, Coates moved to third on a throwing error tying to pick her off at second. Cipolloni then reached on a walk and stole second. Virginia had the tying run on third and the winning run on second for sophomore Erica Cipolloni, who pinch hit for Williams.
Spingola, however, was able to get Cipolloni to strikeout swinging to end the game as the Tar Heels hung on for the 3-2 win.
Mitchell walked three in her complete game outing and allowed just two earned runs. Spingola earned her 19th win of the year, also tossing seven innings. She walked four and allowed one earned run.
North Carolina and Virginia meet for a 12 p.m. doubleheader Saturday at The Park.