Syracuse Softball Falls to North Carolina in ACC Opener
By Sam Lebowitz
CitrusTV Softball Beat Reporter
Chapel Hill, N.C. – Syracuse (8-10, 0-1 ACC) began conference play in 2020 with cold bats and inconsistent pitching against North Carolina (9-11, 3-1 ACC) in a 3-2 loss.
Coming off of a strong weekend series in Tampa, Alexa Romero started in the circle for the Orange. She came out of the gate strong, striking out three Tar Heels over the first two frames. However, in the third, she ran into trouble when UNC threatened with consecutive one-out
singles. Later in the frame, Campbell Hutcherson lined a single to left field, scoring the runner from second. Toni Martin threw out the back runner, Destiny Middleton, trying to advance to third to end the frame, but the run crossed the plate before the out was recorded.
In the fourth, Romero got the first two batters out to kick off the inning. The next batter, Bri Stubbs, singled and stole second. Kiersten Licea then popped up a foul ball to the right of first base, which Mia Cunnings dropped for an error to keep the inning alive. After the error,
Romero’s command broke down. She walked Licea and hit Hannah George with a pitch to load the bases. Romero worked a full count on Zoë Goodman and barely missed on the payoff pitch, walking in a run. In the fifth, Romero gave up a long home run to straightaway center by Abby Settlemyre to extend the UNC lead at the time to 3-1.
Romero wound up credited with the complete-game loss, giving up two earned runs on seven hits with three punchouts and three walks. She did not strike out a batter after the second inning.
On the offensive side, Syracuse was held out of the hit column through the first three innings. Gabby Teran reached on hit by pitches in her first two at-bats, making her the only Syracuse baserunner before Mia Cunnings roped an RBI double to score Teran in the fourth. That tied the game at 1-1 at the time. The only other Syracuse hit was also an RBI double; this double was off the bat of AJ Kaiser in the top of the sixth. Kaiser returned to the cleanup spot for this matchup after hitting a pair of home runs in the USF Tournament last weekend.
Tar Heel sophomore slinger Hannah George was dialed in against the Orange offense. She struck out eight while giving up two runs on just two hits with no walks. The right-hander advanced to 8-4 on the year while Romero’s record fell to 4-4.
Freshman Rebecca Clyde’s struggles with the bat continued. Head Coach Shannon Doepking moved her out of the middle of the lineup for the game. She batted eighth, going 0-for-3 and extending her current slump to 2-31. It was the first time she has batted below the fifth spot in the lineup since February 15th.
Syracuse will have an opportunity to even the series up against the Tarheels tomorrow at 1 p.m.
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