Mount Pleasant, S.C. – North Carolina earned its second doubleheader sweep of the weekend on Saturday, defeating UMass Lowell, 3-1, and North Kentucky, 8-1, to improve to 4-0 at the Holy City Showdown, hosted by the College of Charleston. The pair of wins allowed Carolina to pick up its 20th victory of the year, improving to 20-5 on the season, while UMass Lowell (4-8) and Northern Kentucky (2-12) each fell further below .500.
Destiny DeBerry led UNC at the plate going 3-for-5 with a run on the day, while Leah Murray was 3-for-6 with three runs and three stolen bases, and Taylor Wike went 3-for-7 with a double, a triple, two runs and four RBIs.
Freshman Micaela Abbatine started both games in left field for her first two career appearances in the batting lineup and collected a single and a double with an RBI and two runs scored.
UNC returns to Patriots Point on Sunday, March 12, at 11:30 a.m. to face Robert Morris in the Holy City Showdown finale.
The River Hawks out-hit Carolina 9-4 in the first game of the day, but the Tar Heel defense kept them off the board until the final inning as UNC came away with the win, 3-1.
Leah Murray, Taylor Wike, Destiny DeBerry and Micaela Abbatine represented UNC’s four hits in the game, as Abbatine singled in her first career at-bat and scored a run while Wike drove in two with a fourth-inning double. Murray reached base three times and stole second all three times, a season-high for the Heels, and DeBerry, Abbatine and Hailey Cole all stole in the game as well.
Sydney Matzko (2-2) made her first appearance since Feb. 25 and earned the win after limiting the River Hawks to three hits and a walk with three strikeouts over four shutout innings. Hannah Nommensen pitched the final three frames, earning her first career save after limiting UML to six hits and a run with four strikeouts.
Nommensen is the third Tar Heel to record a save this season, marking just the fourth time in program history that three different Tar Heels have earned at least one save. Brittany Pickett tied the single-season record with her fourth on Friday night, as UNC is one shy of the all-time record, set in 2005, with a total of seven saves as a team this season.
Lauren Ramirez (1-4) did not allow an earned run and limited UNC to four hits over the full six innings, but took the loss after giving up three unearned runs and three walks with six strikeouts.
Marianne Sparacia was the best hitter for the River Hawks, going 3-for-4, while Sydney Barker and Alisha Welch were both 2-for-4 with Barker driving in UML’s lone run in the seventh.
UMass Lowell loaded the bases with one out in the top of the first, but Matzko got herself out of the jam with a pair of ground outs to keep the River Hawks off the board.
A leadoff single and a stolen base by Murray put a Tar Heel in scoring position with no outs in the bottom of the first, but a pair of strikeouts by Ramirez also stranded the bases loaded for Carolina.
Carolina took advantage of a pair of River Hawk errors to score three in the bottom of the fourth. Pickett drew a one-out walk and pinch runner Hailey Cole stole second. Abbatine grounded to third but the first baseman dropped the ball, allowing Cole to come around and score. An error by the shortstop allowed Murray to reach base, and Wike took advantage by roping a two-run double to the gap in left center to make it 3-0 UNC.
The River Hawks led off the sixth with a single and double, but Nommensen retired the next three straight to preserve the shutout.
Tori Alcorn was hit by a pitch to lead off the seventh inning on first base. Sparacia singled to put runners on the corners, but Nommensen recorded her second strikeout of the inning to come one out away. Barker gave the River Hawks hope, driving in Alcorn on a bloop single to shallow left to bring the go-ahead run to the plate, but a nice play by Abbatine in left closed out the game as Carolina sealed up the win, 3-1.
A five-run fifth inning, including a double, a triple and a home run, sparked Carolina’s victory in the nightcap, as the Tar Heels took down Northern Kentucky, 8-1, to claim their fourth win of the weekend. Leah Murray, Taylor Wike, Berlynne Delamora and Destiny DeBerry all had two hits in the game, while Wike, Delamora and Kendra Lynch each drove in two runs. Additionally, Micaela Abbatine hit her first career double for an RBI and scored.
Kendra Lynch (7-2) went the distance for Carolina, allowing a single run on four hits and a walk with one strikeout.
Vega Theophilus (0-1) took her first decision of the season after allowing six runs, two earned, on six hits and a walk over the first 4.2 innings. Charlie Nolen stepped in for the final 2.1 innings and gave up two runs on five hits.
UNC took advantage of a Norse error to score a run in the top of the first. Delamora singled with two outs and advanced to second on a walk. Pinch runner Brittany West took third on a delayed steal then made it home on an error by the shortstop off the bat of Katie Bailiff.
Lynch retired the first seven batters of the game, but Ava Lawson broke up the no-no with a double to right center in the bottom of the third. A single to shallow center by Toree Stalter put runners on the corners, and Sydney Ferrante executed a successful squeeze bunt to tie the score at one.
Carolina took back the lead and then some in the top of the fifth, plating five runs on five hits with the benefit of a Norse error. DeBerry starting things off with a bunt single. She got to third on an error by the second baseman, then Abbatine drove her home with double to left field. Murray followed with a single to left then Wike roped a two-run triple right field. Lynch kept the hit parade going, launching her 11th home run of the season just inside the right field foul pole for a two-run blast to make it 6-1 Tar Heels.
UNC tacked on two more in the top of the seventh to pull ahead 8-1. Murray got it going with a hit to center. Lawson ran right past it, allowing the Tar Heel leadoff batter to get all the way to third. Wike dropped down a bunt for a single and went to second as the Norse prioritized holding Murray on third. Delamora then drove them both home with a single up the middle to make it 8-1 Carolina.
Lynch shut down the Norse in the bottom of the seventh to seal up her second complete-game victory of the season.