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Saturday, Apr 22, 2017 at 5:08 pm

SU Softball Hangs on to Defeat UNC 3-1

By Adam Unger

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — On a cloudy, windy day at Skytop Softball Stadium, the Syracuse Orange got away with a 3-1 win over North Carolina, despite a couple sticky situations for the defense.

However, that pressure was relieved by some help early from the bats. Sammy Fernandez and Alicia Hansen made it home in the bottom of the first to give the Orange a 2-0 lead.

“I think they were aggressive early,” head coach Mike Bosch “They went up there looking to… put the first couple of pitches in play and get some momentum.”

UNC responded quickly in the top of the second with a solo home run from Katelyn Shifflett. The next inning, AnnaMarie Gatti walked the bases loaded and found herself in some trouble that she couldn’t get out of alone.

“I cannot make it easy on myself,” Gatti said. “I have to trust my defense. Sometimes I forget that I have other people out there with me.”

Gatti and the Orange were able to get out of the third and maintain their 2-1 lead. After that, the game began to look like a pitcher’s duel. Gatti and UNC pitcher Brittany Pickett (20-3) took turns earning strikeouts and forcing groundouts.

Syracuse finally broke the stalemate in the bottom of the fifth inning with an RBI single from Bryce Homlgren. Hansen scored her second run of the day to put the Orange up by two runs.

Syracuse began to look like it was going to cruise to victory until AnnaMarie Gatti walked three batters for the second time of the game. The bases were loaded again, with the tying run was on second base.

The possibility of another situation like the third inning was what kept Gatti in the game for so long after she was able to get out of it.

“We were kind of limited as to where we might go for pitching staff,” Bosch said. “I didn’t really want to bring [Alexa Romero] in that early.”

Bosch made the right call. After six and two thirds innings, Romero replaced Gatti with two outs and the bases loaded.

In a fitting end to an odd pitcher’s duel, Romero struck out Tar Heels pitcher Brittany Pickett to end the game.

Syracuse plays UNC again in a double-header on Sunday. The first game is slated for a 10:00 a.m. start time, and the second game should start around noon.