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Pacific Softball: Late Inning Rally Falls Short Against No. 20 North Carolina

Mar 6, 2010
Rallying late against the No. 20 North Carolina Tar Heels, the Pacific softball team came up just short of the upset victory, falling 3-1 on Saturday, March 6. The loss dropped the Tigers to 1-2 at the DeMarini Tournament and 5-8 on the year while the Tar Heels improved to 13-3 overall and 3-0 in Fullerton, Calif.

In their third game at the DeMarini Tournament, the Tigers got off to a slow start against the Tar Heels, falling behind early while struggling to figure out Amber Johnson, North Carolina's starter. Batting first as the designated visitors, the Tar Heels led the game off with back-to-back singles to set up the inning for the middle of their lineup. After a failed pick-off attempt as second base allowed North Carolina to put runners at the corners with no outs, Danielle Spaulding made the Tigers pay for their mistake, lifting a fly ball down the left field line and into foul territory that resulted in a sacrifice fly and the first run of the game.

After getting out of the first without further damage, freshman Nikki Armagost (Andover, Kan.) settled into a groove in the circle, allowing just two base runners over the next four innings. However, in the sixth she hit another bump in the road against the top of the Tar Heel lineup after walking their No. 2 hitter to lead off the inning. The free pass would immediately come back to bite her on the scoreboard when Spaulding struck for the second time, this time pulling a 2-2 pitch down the right field line for a two-run home run and a three run Tar Heel lead.

Down three, and still looking for their first hit of the contest against Johnson, Pacific caught a break with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning when Johnson suffered a lapse in control. Facing the Tigers' No. 3 and No. 4 hitters, Johnson walked the pair to put a runner in scoring position for Pacific for the first time since the first inning. With her teammates on base, senior Karie Wilson (Glendale, Ariz.) delivered the Tigers' first of the game, a single to left field that also broke up Johnson's no-hit bid. 

Having tallied a single run in the sixth, the Tigers entered the seventh down two runs looking to break through for more. Sending the bottom of the order to the plate, Pacific put its first two runners on to start the inning courtesy of a hit batter and freshman Megan Allen's (Yucaipa, Calif.) single to right-center. The Tigers would move the tying run into scoring position on a two-out passed ball, but in the end come up short of bringing home any runs in the inning.

In the circle, Johnson picked up her seventh win of the year after throwing all seven innings for the Tar Heels. She gave up two hits and one run while striking out eight and walking five. For Armagost, the loss was her third of the year and third against a top-25 ranked opponent. In seven full innings, she gave up five hits and three runs while striking out three and walking two.