Davis Delivers 3-Run Walk-Off HR to Beat #24 Tar Heels
April 14, 2013
RALEIGH, N.C. - For the first time this season, sophomore shortstop Renada Davis ended a game with a home run, blasting a three-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the seventh inning to beat No. 24 North Carolina, 3-1, at the Curtis and Jacqueline Dail Softball Stadium.
It was the second consecutive game the Pack beat the Tar Heels with a three-run walk-off, as Caitlin Dent did the same thing in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader, giving the Pack an 11-8 victory.
It was the season's fifth win in 12 games against a ranked opponent for the Wolfpack (23-18-1 overall, 7-7 ACC), including close loses to top-ranked Oklahoma (3-0), then No. 10 Texas (7-4) and then No. 15 Michigan (1-0) at the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif.
"There hasn't been but a game or two all season that we haven't been a swing away from winning it late in the late innings," said first-year coach Shawn Rychcik. "When we get the chance, we have some power hitters who can change the game with one swing.
"That's what Renada did today."
Davis, who entered the weekend ranked third among all Division I hitters with 17 home runs, has been the Wolfpack's lead-off hitter all season and has opened five games this season with solo homers.
"Leading off with a home run is great, but ending one is even more amazing," Davis said. "It's a completely different feeling - but I like them both."
The Tar Heels (33-15, 10-5) owned a 1-0 lead going into the bottom of the seventh, thanks to a solo line-drive homer by freshman Kristen Brown in the sixth inning off Wolfpack starter Emily Weiman, who gave up only three hits and one walk the entire game.
The Pack had only gotten two hits prior to the seventh, a double by Davis and a single by catcher Kirsty Grant. But freshman Lana Van Dyken ended the home half of the final inning with a slap single to left field. Grant drew a walk to put runners on first and second with none out for Davis in the Wolfpack's final home game of the season, in front of a standing-room only crowd of 774.
She got a bit of advice in the on-deck circle from Rychcik, and followed it to a "T."
"In all of my previous at bats, the first pitch was an inside pitch for a strike every time," Davis said. "He told me to treat it like a hit-and-run and swing at the first pitch no matter what. I said, `Okay, that's what I am doing,' and it worked out perfectly."
For the most part. Rychcik only wanted Davis to hit a line drive on the first pitch.
"The thing about Renada is that most of her home runs are just line drives that go out of the park," Rychcik said. "And she hit that line drive right into the leftfield screen."
The homer broke up the weekend's second pitching duel between Weiman and North Carolina's junior Lori Spingola, the pitchers of record in all three games in the series. Spingola, the 2012 ACC Pitcher of the year, had the upper hand in the first game, winning 2-1 on Saturday when Weiman gave up an unearned run in the top of the seventh.
Weiman won Saturday's second game, with the help of three home runs, two by Dent and one by freshman Hanna Sommer.
Sunday, both pitchers made one mistake, and Weiman (21-16) got the biggest benefit.
"I thought both pitchers were better on Sunday than they were on Saturday," Rychcik said. "They are both great competitors. When Emily gave up that home run in the sixth, I told her not to worry about it, to go out and get me three more outs and we would get her the win.
"And that's what she did."
The Pack, which has hit an ACC-leading 57 home runs, has now hit at least one in 17 of its last 20 games and a total of 20 homers in its last 11 games.
The Wolfpack is off this week until traveling for a three-game series against Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.
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