Syracuse Orange Softball: ‘Cuse splits road doubleheader with UNC

Syracuse Orange (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
Syracuse Orange (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /

Syracuse Orange softball returned to Atlantic Coast Conference play Saturday in a doubleheader at North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C.

After the first game of the series was postponed on Friday due to expected inclement weather, UNC and ‘Cuse had their first two games as a doubleheader on Saturday, and both teams won a game.

Lindsey Hendrix got the ball for the ‘Cuse in the first game of the doubleheader and Lilli Backes was the Game 1 starter for the Tar Heels. Backes and Hendrix both pitched scoreless first innings and then ‘Cuse would be the first team to get on the board. Madison Knight singled and then scored after Rebecca Clyde doubled to right but got left stranded after Ryan Starr struck out.

UNC was able to respond in a big way as they ended up scoring four runs in its half of the second. Skyler Brooks led off the inning with a bunt single and then was able to advance to second on a sac bunt by Destiny Middleton. Hendrix was able to get Carlie Myrtle to strike out but then walked Isabela Emerling.

Lexi Godwin broke the scoring open for the Tar Heels with a single to left field and was able to move all the way to third on a throwing error, allowing both Emerling and Brooks to score. Alex Brown singled the next at-bat, allowing Godwin to score. Abby Settlemyre doubled to center field, scoring Brown. Hendrix was finally able to get out of the inning when she got Kiersten Licea to ground out.

Syracuse Orange softball split a doubleheader with North Carolina.

After allowing the second-inning run, Backes was able to shut down the ‘Cuse bats. After a couple more Tar Heels runs scored in the bottom of the third and fifth, ‘Cuse was down by six runs heading into the sixth and that’s when the Syracuse Orange bats woke up.

After Tessa Galipeau lined out, Kelly Breen would get a base hit to center field and Angel Jasso had an infield single that advanced Kate Dorazio, who pinch-ran for Breen, to second. Backes got Knight to strike out swinging but Laila Alves laced a double to right field that would score Jasso and Dorazio.

Taylor Posner was able to follow up with a two-run home run and just like that, it was a two-run game heading into the sixth. UNC would go scoreless in its half of the sixth. In the top of the seventh, Talia Hannappel replaced Backes to get the save and Ryan Starr immediately reached on an error but ended up getting stranded on second as UNC would take Game 1 over the Orange, 7-5.

Madison Knight got the ball in Game 2 for the ‘Cuse, and the Tar Heels gave the ball to MaKenna Raye Dark for their side. The Orange was able to get a run in the first inning that led off with a walk to Madelyn Lopez that was followed up with a double by Galipeau. Breen grounded out to second to score Lopez, and Raye Dark was able able to get Jasso and Knight to end the inning.

Knight held UNC scoreless through three innings, but UNC was able to get to her in the third inning. Emerling walked to start the inning then got replaced by Aneshia Jordan and she advanced to second as Carsyn Snead was able to execute a perfect bunt to get a single.

After walking Bri Stubbs, Abby Settlemyre doubled to center field scoring Jordan and Snead, allowing Stubbs to get to third. The Tar Heels didn’t stop there as Lexi Godwin hit a sac fly to score Stubbs. Destiny Middleton singled to left allowing Settlemyre to score but the inning would end when Licea got thrown out trying to score.

After all that, UNC had a 4-1 lead over the ‘Cuse but that would end up being short-lived as ‘Cuse would answer back when they came to bat due to a Laila Alves double that led Gabby Lantier pinch-running for her, and Lantier would score after an error.

From the fourth inning to the sixth, no team could score until the Syracuse Orange came to bat in the seventh inning. After Kelly Breen reached on a fielders choice and Jasso reached on an error, the Syracuse Orange had runners on second and third with two outs and star freshman pitcher Madison Knight coming to the plate.

I sat and watched, knowing something special could happen. I said to myself, “If there was ever a time Madison Knight could bring ‘MayDay’ to Chapel Hill, it would be with a home run right here.”

Sure enough, the very next pitch after I said that, Knight hits it over the right field wall for a go-ahead two-run home run, which ultimately ended up being the game-winner as Hendrix came in to shut the door to get Syracuse to prevail, 5-4.

The Syracuse Orange (14-20-1, 4-11-1) finishes up its series with UNC in Chapel Hill on Sunday at 2 pm. The game will be nationally televised on the ACC Network.

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