CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - One of the most storied rivalries in all of college athletics made its softball debut Friday night, as the Duke Blue Devils (12-7) fell in a 2-1 extra-inning thriller to the North Carolina Tar Heels (9-13) to open ACC play at Anderson Stadium.
It was a defensive battle through the first four frames of play, as both sides combined for just five hits. UNC nearly opened the scoring in the third, as the Tar Heels put runners on second and third with two outs. However, the jam was no problem for Amelia Wiercioch, as the Blue Devil starter forced a groundout to close the frame.
Duke looked to feed off the momentum from the defense’s play in the top of the fourth, as Rachel Abboud rattled off a one-out double to right, one of her two hits on the night. A fielder’s choice and pop up to the pitcher shut the door on the Duke threat.
The Blue Devils finally broke through in the fifth thanks to Hannah Pridemore. The Duke left fielder blasted her first-career home run, a monster solo shot to left center, to give the Blue Devils a 1-0 advantage. After shutting down the Tar Heels’ attempts to even things up in the home half of the fifth, Duke nearly put another run on the board as Jameson Kavel ended up on third with one out after a leadoff double and a Jazmine Moreno sac bunt. North Carolina once again shut down the Blue Devils with consecutive outs to keep the Duke lead at one.
UNC would tie things up in the sixth, getting a runner on with a double and bringing her home via a Duke error with two outs. A 1-2-3 inning on both sides would send the contest into extra innings and the score would remain tied until the ninth, when the Tar Heels used a leadoff triple and a sacrifice fly to left to take the series opener, 2-1.
Five Blue Devils recorded hits on the night, led by Abboud’s 2-for-4 showing and Pridemore’s homer. Kortney Dry and Ashleigh Rodriguez also tallied hits, with Rodriguez’s being the first of her career. Wiercioch earned the start and threw all 8.2 innings of Friday night’s contest, allowing just one earned run and striking out four, two short of her career high.
The Blue Devils and Tar Heels will close out the series Saturday with a doubleheader, starting at 1 p.m. ET. Both contests will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra, which fans can access through WatchESPN.com and the ESPN app.
For more information on Duke softball, follow the Blue Devils on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by searching for “DukeSoftball”. You can also find all-access coverage of all Duke athletic programs on SnapChat by searching for “dukeathletics”.
2018 Duke Softball Program Firsts...
Game: Feb. 8, 2018 vs. FAU (Game 1)
Win (Team): Feb. 8, 2018 vs. FAU (Game 1), 4-3
Win (Individual): Katherine Huey vs. FAU (Game 1), Feb. 8, 2018
At-Bat: Jameson Kavel vs. FAU (Game 1), Feb. 8, 2018
Pitch: Amelia Wiercioch vs. FAU (Game 1), Feb. 8, 2018
Baserunner: Jameson Kavel (Walked, 1st Inning) vs. FAU (Game 1), Feb. 8, 2018
Hit: Amelia Wiercioch (Double, 1st Inning) vs. FAU (Game 1), Feb. 8, 2018
Single: Rachel Abboud (3rd Inning) vs. FAU (Game 1), Feb. 8, 2018
Double: Amelia Wiercioch (1st Inning) vs. FAU (Game 1), Feb. 8, 2018
Walk: Jameson Kavel (1st Inning) vs. FAU (Game 1), Feb. 8, 2018
Hit By Pitch: Ashleigh Rodriguez (7th Inning) vs. FAU (Game 2), Feb. 8, 2018
Run Batted In: Amelia Wiercioch (1st Inning) vs. FAU (Game 1), Feb. 8, 2018
Sacrifice Hit: Jazmine Moreno (SAC Bunt, 1st Inning) vs. FAU (Game 1), Feb. 8, 2018
Sacrifice Fly: Rachel Abboud (5th Inning) vs. FAU (Game 2), Feb. 8, 2018
Strikeout: Amelia Wiercioch (Strikeout Looking) vs. FAU (Game 1), Feb. 8, 2018
Stolen Base: Dominique Salinas (2nd Inning) vs. FAU (Game 2), Feb. 8, 2018
Complete Game: Katherine Huey vs. Michigan State, Feb. 9, 2018
Shutout: Katherine Huey vs. Michigan State, Feb. 9, 2018
Complete Game Shutout: Katherine Huey vs. Michigan State, Feb. 9, 2018
Extra Innings Game: Feb. 10, 2018 vs. Boston University (L, 7-4 )
Home Run: Katherine Huey (2-Run, 4th Inning) vs. Penn State, Feb. 16, 2018
Save: Amelia Wiercioch vs. Penn State, Feb. 16, 2018
Comeback Win: Feb. 16, 2018 vs. Penn State (Trailed 5-0 in T3, won 7-5)
Triple: Jameson Kavel (6th Inning) vs. Purdue, Feb. 16, 2018
One-Hitter: Amelia Wiercioch vs. Purdue, Feb. 16, 2018
Winning Streak: 5 Games (Feb. 16 vs. Penn State - Feb. 23 vs. Morgan State)
National POTW Honor: Katherine Huey (espnW), Feb. 21, 2018
Extra-Innings Win: March 2, 2018 vs. Yale (W, 4-3 )
Grand Slam: Amelia Wiercioch (4th Inning) vs. Lehigh, March 3, 2018
Run-Rule Victory: March 4, 2018 vs. Kent State (W, 8-0 )
ACC Contest: March 9, 2018 at North Carolina (L, 2-1 )