|Syracuse (25-16, 6-9 ACC)|
|Friday, April 21 | 6 PM | Watch | Stats|
|Saturday, April 22 | 1 PM | Listen | Stats|
|Sunday, April 23 | Noon | Watch | Stats|
|Where: Skytop Stadium
|Series: UNC leads 6-3; Streak: Won 2|
Syracuse, N.Y. - North Carolina (35-12, 13-5 ACC) heads north this weekend for a three-game series with Syracuse University (25-16, 6-9 ACC). The Heels currently sit in second place in the ACC standings with three-game series against Syracuse and first-place Florida State left to play.
Against the Orange
UNC has faced Syracuse just nine times in program history, all of which have come in the past five years. Syracuse defeated UNC, 6-2, in the first-ever meeting in 2012, and the Heels have since gone 6-2 against the Orange in conference play.
Carolina swept the three-game series in 2014, including a pair of five-inning trouncings, then split a doubleheader in 2015 in the Heels’ only trip to Syracuse. UNC won two of three at home last season, with the lone loss coming in extra innings.
Lynch, Pickett Finalists for National Player, Freshman of the Year
Kendra Lynch was named one of 34 finalists for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, while Brittany Pickett was selected as a top-25 finalist for Schutt Sports/NFCA Division I Freshman of the Year.
Lynch is the third Tar Heel to be named a finalist for the Division I Softball’s highest honor, following Danielle Spaulding (2009, 2010) and Kristen Brown (2015), while Pickett is the second to make the Freshman of the Year list since the award’s creation in 2014 (Taylor Wike, 2015).
Lynch ranks in the top three in the nation in total bases, home runs and RBIs, and is narrowing in on several career and single-season records. She is one of six ACC players to make the list of finalists, joining four Seminoles and Syracuse’s Sydney O’Hara.
Pickett is the only ACC player to make the Freshman of the Year list. She has been fantastic in the circle and at the plate, going 20-2 with a UNC-record five saves, while ranking third in the ACC with 10 home runs.
Both awards will be narrowed down to a group of 10, then whittled to three, with the individual award winners announced on May 30-31 prior to the WCWS in Oklahoma City.
Tar Heels Garner Five ACC Weekly Awards
Tar Heel catcher Katie Bailiff was named ACC Player of the Week on Feb. 21, after a fantastic week at the plate on Feb. 15-19. The sophomore hit .615 (8-13) with four doubles, two home runs and 10 RBIs, slugging an impressive 1.385 over four starts. The Trinity, N.C., native came through when it mattered, hitting .875 (7-8) with runners in scoring position and .800 (4-5) with two outs, including a walk-off RBI double on Friday against Ohio State.
Senior pitcher/designated player Kendra Lynch earned the honor the following week on Feb. 28, after hitting .588 with a 1.118 slugging percentage over a 5-0 week at home. Lynch totaled 10 hits, three doubles, two home runs, five runs scored and 11 RBIs over five starts, while going 2-0 with a 1.43 ERA over 14.2 innings in the circle. In her best performance of the week, Lynch went 3-for-3 with three RBIs and scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth while throwing 7.2 shutout innings against Towson in an extra-innings victory.
Lynch won her second Player of the Week award on March 14, when Brittany Pickett became the first of the year to earn ACC Pitcher of the Week. Lynch slugged 1.182 over seven games, with seven of her nine hits going for extra bases including five home runs. Pickett went 2-0 with two saves on the week, recording a perfect 0.00 ERA with 12 strikeouts and just two walks over 16.0 innings pitched.
Pickett earned ACC Pitcher of the Week once again on April 18 after going 4-0 with with a 0.56 ERA and 20 strikeouts over wins against USC Upstate and Boston College. The rookie hurled two three-hit shutouts in three days to lead Carolina to the perfect 4-0 week.
Carolina is among the best in the nation statistically, ranking in the top 25 as a team slugging percentage (.487), home runs (50), runs (256) and stolen bases (93). The Heels’ 50 long balls rank sixth in the NCAA while their 93 SB is 10th.
Individually, Kendra Lynch ranks in the top three in the nation in home runs (18), RBIs (59) and total bases (123). Additionally, she is one of 16 pitchers in the country to have pitched at least 70 innings an only hit a single batter, and ranks 12th in the NCAA with a .842 slugging percentage.
Berlynne Delamora’s patience at the plate has paid off, ranking sixth in the nation with 41 walks, while Brittany Pickett is second in the NCAA with five saves this season—a UNC record—and 11th in victories. Leah Murray ranks 13th in the nation with 32 stolen bases and has been the seventh-most-difficult batter to strike out, with just three Ks over 153 at-bats. Additionally, Taylor Wike ranks 18th in the NCAA with 44 runs while Katie Bailiff is 28th with 43 RBIs.
Happy at Home
The Tar Heels have been successful at Anderson Stadium this season, going 23-4 on their home turf so far this year. It is the 10th time in program history that UNC has captured at least 20 games at home and the sixth time since Anderson Stadium opened in 2002. UNC’s record for home wins is 29 (29-4 in 2009).
Carolina is fortunate to be hosting the 2017 ACC Softball Championship on May 11-13. The Heels hope to continue their strong play at home through the postseason.
Saving The Day
North Carolina’s pitching staff has had each other’s backs all season, teaming up in nearly every game. A single pitcher has gone the distance in just 14 games this season, with Kendra Lynch and Brittany Pickett the only individuals to throw a complete game.
The continued use of relief has helped keep the staff fresh through the grind of the NCAA softball season. Additionally, it has allowed for an increase in save opportunities. Pickett leads the ACC with 38 appearances but has made just 18 starts (seven of which turned into shutouts). 12 of Hannah Nommensen’s 15 appearances came off the bench, while Sydney Matzko and Kellyn Daly have combined for 15 relief appearances.
Pickett’s speed has helped her be extremely effective in relief, as the Tar Heel rookie broke UNC’s record on March 14 with her fifth save of the season and ranks second in the NCAA. Matzko has come in for two saves and Nommensen picked up the save against UMass Lowell on Feb. 11. Lynch entered the UNCG game in a save situation, pitching the final two innings with a 2-0 lead to protect, but was awarded the win as the most-effective relief pitcher after Pickett only pitched two innings as the starter and thus was ineligible for the save.
UNC now has eight saves as a team, which ties the program record set in 2005. Three different Tar Heels posted at least one save for the fourth time in program history, a feat matched in 2006, 2005 and 2000.
Brittany Blanks Opponents
UNC has recorded eight shutout victories this season and Brittany Pickett has pitched in all eight of them. The rookie pitched compete-game shutouts over Purdue (Feb. 18) and NC State (March 24), then hurled a pair of three-hitters two days apart against USC Upstate (April 12) and Boston College (April 14).
She pitched the first six innings at ECU and first five against Chattanooga. Sydney Matzko went the first four innings against Campbell before Pickett earned the save with the final three. All five UNC pitchers combined for a 2-0 shutout of UNCG on March 29, with Pickett going the first two and Lynch earning the win after retiring six of the final seven batters.
Walk This Way
Third baseman Berlynne Delamora, who ranked fifth all time in UNC history last season in on-base percentage, proved to be the hardest out at the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, reaching base safely in 12 consecutive plate appearances from Feb 18-22. The streak, which featured 10 walks and two singles, was the sixth-longest in NCAA history.
Delamora walked in all seven of her plate appearances on Saturday, Feb. 18, against Purdue and Ohio State, a streak bested by just eight players in NCAA history.
She then walked in six consecutive trips to the plate from March 8-10, which ties the 14th-longest streak in softball history.
Through 47 games, Delamora has a total of 41 walks, which leads the ACC and ranks sixth in the nation. Her average of 0.87 walks per game ranks 15th in the NCAA and surpasses the UNC record of 0.79 set by teammate Taylor Wike in 2015. The third baseman needs just two more free passes to reach UNC’s single-season total walks record, set last season by Kristen Brown at 43.
Berlynne Delamora has reached base in 43 of 47 games this season, including a streak of 29 straight from Feb. 18-March 31. It was the second-longest reached base streak for Carolina since at least 2005.
Kristen Brown holds the record (since 2005), putting together a 54-game streak from the end of 2015 through the majority of 2016. She reached base safely in all-but-one game as a senior, including the first 51 games of the year.
Amber Parrish reached base successfully in the final 26 games of her career in 2015.
Taylor Wike is the only player (since 2005) to have reached base in 20-straight games more than once. The junior has done so in each of her first three seasons, reaching in 23-straight as a freshman (2015), 22-in-a-row as a sophomore, and saw her personal-best 25-game streak come to an end against UNCG on March 29, 2017.
Leah Murray became the fifth Tar Heel to join the 20-game streak club, reaching safely in exactly 20 games from March 8 to April 14, 2017.
North Carolina has been extremely resilient all season long, erasing early deficits with big innings, especially in the fifth and seventh frames. Meanwhile, Carolina’s defense has held firm, dropping just a single contest when leading after the fourth, fifth or sixth innings.
The magic began on Feb. 25, when Carolina trailed 6-0 heading into the fifth inning against Miami (Ohio). Carolina scored a run in the fifth and the sixth but still trailed, 7-2, in the seventh. The Heels led off the bottom of the seventh with a single and a double, and a two-run double by Kendra Lynch started the scoring. The Redhawks made a pitching change and got the second out of the inning, but UNC never gave in as the next four batters reached safely for a 6-run bottom of the seventh as UNC walked off with a bases-loaded walk by Taylor Wike, 8-7.
A three-run fifth inning broke a 1-1 tie to give UNC a 5-1 victory over No. 21 Pittsburgh in the series opener. Two days later, Carolina found itself down 7-1 in the middle of the fifth but rallied to plate six runs in the bottom of the fifth and walked off in the bottom of the ninth to complete the series sweep, 8-7.
A run in the top of the seventh broke a 2-2 at College of Charleston, then a five-run top of the fifth pushed UNC past Northern Kentucky the following day.
Virginia Tech scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 3-2 lead in game two, but UNC tied the score in the top of the seventh and won it, 4-3, in the eighth.
Carolina trailed 3-1 to Longwood in the bottom of the seventh, but a walk-off three-run homer by Lynch gave UNC a 5-3 victory.
The Heels used another big fifth inning to complete the sweep of Boston College, coming back from down 2-0 to score six runs in the fifth and secure an 8-3 win in the series finale.
UNC is 29-1 on the season when leading after six innings, but has come back to win nine games when tied or trailing after the fourth inning and five games when tied or trailing heading into the seventh.