DURHAM, N.C. – A seventh inning rally fell just short for the Duke Blue Devils (9-13, 0-1 ACC) on Friday, as they dropped the series opener to the North Carolina Tar Heels (10-8, 1-0 ACC), 4-2, at the Duke Softball Stadium.
Duke strung together three hits to plate a run in the seventh, leaving runners at second and third with one out remaining. Deja Davis drove in Jazmine Moreno to cut the UNC lead to 4-2 before the Tar Heels produced a fly-out and groundout to secure the win.
Moreno and Rachel Abboud, who singled in the seventh to set up Davis’ RBI base hit, both finished with 2-for-3 performances. Moreno tallied a pair of doubles to earn the first multi-double game of her career. Davis, Raine Wilson, Caroline Jacobsen and Kristina Foreman rounded out Duke’s offense with a hit each.
North Carolina opened the scoring in the first with an RBI single to center to make it 1-0. The Tar Heels added another run in the third to make it a 2-0 advantage, as a base hit and a fielding error brought home the visitors’ second tally.
The Blue Devils pulled one back in the bottom of the fourth, as doubles from Wilson and Forman cut the UNC lead down to 2-1. However, a pair of two-out singles in the fifth pushed the Tar Heels’ lead to three heading into the final two and a half frames. North Carolina nearly added more runs to the score in the sixth, lining one to left with two on and two out in the sixth, but a sliding catch from Reilly Metzger kept the lead at three.
Duke’s Brianna Butler, who threw the final 4.2 innings, got the Tar Heels in order in the top of the seventh before the Blue Devils’ rally fell just short. Butler capped the game giving up just two runs on four hits with four strikeouts and one walk. Shelby Walters (3-6) earned the start, going 2.1 innings and striking out three.
The two rivals return for games two and three of the series on Saturday, with the first pitches set for 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. ET. Both contests will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra, which fans can access through WatchESPN.com or the ESPN app.
Next up for Duke is its 2019 ACC opener, as it welcomes rival North Carolina to the Duke Softball Stadium this weekend. The series kicks off Friday, March 8 at 5 p.m. ET, with the Saturday and Sunday contests both slated for 1 p.m. starts. All three contests will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.
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