#21 North Carolina Softball 2017 Preview

North Carolina Tar Heels
Overall Rank: #21
Conference Rank: #3 Atlantic Coast
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North Carolina brings back a very young, talented team in 2017 that will be looking to build upon a trip to the 2016 NCAA Tournament that ended quickly at the Harrisonburg Regional. Donna J. Papa is the long time veteran coach for the Tar Heels and her teams are always going to be a tough out on any given day when they are clicking on all cylinders. Kendra Lynch was the primary number one starter in the circle last season for North Carolina and she is back this season and will need to take her game up another notch until this young lineup gels offensively.
2016: 32-25, 13-11
2016 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Donna J. Papa
Key Departed Players:
Kristen Brown, IF, .388 BA, 19 HR, 58 RBI
Aquilla Mateen, OF, .295 BA, 0 HR, 8 RBI
Lauren Fuller, P/UT, .298 BA, 4 HR, 28 RBI
Tracy Chandless, IF/OF, 276 BA, 7 HR, 24 RBI
Key Returning Players:
Berlynne Delamora, IF, .339 BA, 6 HR, 27 RBI
Kendra Lynch, P/UT, .321 BA, 12 HR, 38 RBI
Kendra Lynch, P/UT, 301.1, 3.88 ERA, 170 SO
Destiny DeBerry, OF, .317 BA, 0 HR, 6 RBI
Taylor Wike, IF, .304 BA, 8 HR, 34 RBI
Senior Kendra Lynch is the best all-around returning player for the Tar Heels as she threw over 300 innings and was disciplined enough at the plate to put up huge offensive numbers. The overall experience and motivation for Lynch to finish her career strong is going to give North Carolina every opportunity to make a run at 35-40 plus wins this season. Speed is another big time element of the Tar Heels offensive attack. They have several threats in the running game. Destiny DeBerry is the most prolific base stealer for North Carolina after stealing 33 bases in 38 attempts last season. DeBerry also can provide some power, hitting six homeruns last season. Taylor Wike stole 12 bases in 13 attempts in 2016 and will be looking to get closer to 20 stolen bases this season with the graduation of Aquilla Mateen, who stole 26 bases in 28 attempts as a senior. If Wike can get her batting average closer to around .350, that will offset some of the loss of Kristen Brown’s offensive production from last season since Brown was dominant at the plate all year long. It will take some time to get things rolling in 2017, especially with a tough early season schedule with a trip to Puerto Rico for a tournament against Baylor and California. However, at the end of the day, if Lynch can continue to be the workhorse in the circle all year long, the Tar Heels will be back in the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament


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