#30 North Carolina Softball 2021 Preview

North Carolina Tar Heels
Overall Rank: #30
Conference Rank: #4 ACC
 North Carolina Logo
North Carolina is coming off a very strong 2019 campaign. The Tar Heels finished second in the ACC Coastal Division and made a decent run in the NCAA Tournament. After falling to Ohio State in their tournament opener, UNC won three straight and forced a deciding game against host Tennessee. The Tar Heels lost that contest 2-0, but proved to be a resilient team. That resilience will need to continue in 2021 since Coach Donna J. Papa needs to replace some key hitters from her regular lineup.
2019: 38-20, 17-7
2019 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Donna J. Papa
Key Departed Players:
Kiani Ramsey, OF, .364 BA, 2 HR, 38 RBI, 22 SB
Leah Murray, OF/1B, .344 BA, 9 RBI, 27 SB
Destiny DeBerry, OF, .267 BA, 4 RBI, 13 SB
Berlynne Delamora, IF, .261 BA, 2 HR, 17 RBI
Megan Dray, C/1B, .301 BA, 5 HR, 33 RBI
Key Returning Players:
Abby Settlemyre, IF, .306 BA, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 10 SB
Kristina Burkhardt, OF, .304 BA, 5 HR, 39 RBI, 19 SB
Brittany Pickett, P/1B, 2.02 ERA, 23-14 W/L, 232.2 IP, 228 SO, .221 BA, 7 HR, 18 RBI
Hannah George, P, 3.60 ERA, 14-4 W/L, 126.1 IP, 81 SO
Brittany Pickett and Hannah George pitched nearly every inning in 2019. Pickett went 23-14 with a 2.02 ERA. In 232.2 innings of work, she struck out 228 batters. George went 14-4 with a 3.60 ERA. With an experienced senior like Pickett and an improving pitcher like George, North Carolina should be one of the best teams in the circle in the ACC. It is at the plate where there are more concerns. Kiani Ramsey and Leah Murray will be sorely missed due to their consistent hitting and speed on the base paths. However, Abby Settlemyre and Kristina Burkhardt both hit over .300 last year and stole at least ten bases. If those two can continue to improve, the Tar Heels should be in decent shape. Burkhardt should be able to drive in plenty of runs and Pickett has the most powerful bat on the team. This group may not be able to steal quite as many bases this year, but they will still be among the best in the country in that department. If a couple less proven players can step up and help drive in those baserunners, North Carolina will get back to the NCAA Tournament without much trouble.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament