EUGENE, Ore. - North Carolina opened NCAA play Thursday at the University of Oregon's Howe Field, taking a 3-2 victory in eight innings over No. 25 Wisconsin, led by Lori Spingola's stellar work in the circle and tough defensive play in the field.
Spingola, who tallied her 30th win of the season with today's victory, fanned eight while giving up just four hits and three walks and only one earned run to help Carolina top the Badgers, who took the win over UNC in an earlier meeting this season.
Wisconsin left runners on second and third in the second, and then Carolina left two on base in the third, but neither team put a run on the board until Wisconsin broke through in the bottom of the third frame.
Maria Van Abel reached base on a Tar Heel fielding error, advancing to third on a double to center by Mary Massei. A sac fly to center by Michelle Mueller scored Van Abel to put the Badgers up 1-0. Shannel Blackshear drew a walk, but a right field fly by Stephanie Peace left two more Badgers stranded and prevented any more runs.
After an hour rain delay in the top of the fourth, Orr returned to the plate and drew a walk. Amy Nece came in to run for Orr, and then Kelly doubled down the left field line, advancing Nece to third before she scored on a Wisconsin error to even the game at 1-1.
The Tar Heel defense had a solid fifth inning, as Spingola tabbed a four-pitch inning and Elisha Elliott added a sliding catch in right field to shut down the Badgers.
Kristen Brown led off the seventh with a double to right center, and a single by Dickey past the Wisconsin third baseman drove Brown in to put Carolina up 2-1.
The Badgers responded in the bottom half of the seventh, as Marissa Mersch hit one out to right on the first pitch, evening the game at 2-2 and forcing extra innings.
In the eighth, Elliott led off with a single up the middle, advancing to second on a sac bunt by Erin Satterfield. Tisha Mahon had a well-placed bunt single, which moved Elliott to third before Mahon advanced to second on the throw. Brown then hit a sac fly to third, scoring Elliott for what would be the winning run, 3-2.
Two Badgers got on in the bottom of the eighth, but Spingola's final two strikeouts closed out the game.
UNC, now 40-19, will face the winner of Thursday's second game, No. 3 host Oregon vs. BYU. That game will take place Friday at 2 p.m. ET.