#30 North Carolina Softball 2018 Preview

North Carolina Tar Heels
Overall Rank: #30
Conference Rank: #2 ACC
North Carolina is coming off a superb season in which they won 40 games and reached the Regional Finals of the NCAA Tournament. That was a relatively young squad as well and now Coach Donna J. Papa has a team with the experience to compete for a conference title and perhaps make a deeper tournament run in 2018. It starts in the circle with Brittany Pickett. As a freshman last year she went 22-10 with a 2.81 ERA. Pickett emerged as the workhorse last season, making 50 appearances and recording 221.2 innings pitched. UNC will need to find a second pitcher to spell Pickett and replace the departed Kendra Lynch, but fellow sophomores Hannah Nommensen and Kellyn Daly should be able to fill that role.
2017: 40-21, 14-9
2017 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Donna J. Papa
Key Departed Players:
Kendra Lynch, P/UTL, .374 BA, 21 HR, 68 RBI, 5.23 ERA, 11-4 W-L, 93.2 IP, 50 SO
Key Returning Players:
Leah Murray, OF/1B, .370 BA, 11 RBI, 38 SB
Taylor Wike, IF, .346 BA, 3 HR, 42 RBI
Brittany Pickett, 1B/P, .299 BA, 12 HR, 27 RBI, .281 ERA, 22-10 W-L, 221.2 IP, 151 SO
Katie Bailiff, C, .288 BA, 8 HR, 49 RBI
Berlynne Delamora, IF, .280 BA, 7 HR, 24 RBI
Kendra Lynch was not just the secondary pitcher, she was also the team’s top hitter, belting 21 homeruns with a .374 batting average. Lynch will certainly be missed at the plate, but the good news is just about everybody else is back. Pickett will likely be the team’s top power hitter after recording a dozen homeruns as a freshman, but with players like Katie Bailiff, Berlynn Delamora and Katelyn Shifflett also returning, the Tar Heels will not lack in the homerun department. Meanwhile, Leah Murray and Taylor Wike will get on base and into scoring position. The addition of Texas Tech transfer Kiani Ramsey will add yet another dangerous bat to the already formidable North Carolina lineup. As long as Pickett, and others, avoid a sophomore slump, this group should be in the mix for an ACC title.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament