#23 North Carolina Softball Preview

North Carolina Tar Heels

Overall Rank: #23
Conference Rank: #1 ACC
North Carolina Softball Top 44 Team Preview
North Carolina Team Page


In her 28th season, head coach Donna Papa has developed a winning culture at Chapel Hill that is rivaled by few. Since 1986 when she became head coach, the Tar Heels have had 24 winning seasons including the last 14 in a row and qualified for the NCAA Tournament 10 out of the last 12 years. The Tar Heels have won four regular-season ACC titles including 2012 when Papa was named ACC Coach of the Year for the fifth time in her career. Inducted into the NFCA Hall of Fame in 2012, Papa is one of 11 coaches to win at least 1,000 games (1,021-548-5). She has upgraded the team’s 2013 schedule to help prepare the Tar Heels for the ACC season. “We will have a very challenging schedule this season,” said Papa. “I wanted an out of conference schedule that would test us nationally and help us obtain a strong RPI. We will have the opportunity to play some College World Series participants including LSU and ASU. Additionally, we are playing a few teams such as Baylor, Kentucky, Iona, North Dakota State and Tulsa that were in regionals last year. This will help prepare us for the ACC season. The Tar Heels open their season February 8-10 in the Tiger Classic in Baton Rouge, LA. North Carolina has an overall softball record of 1,293-709-5 since adding the sport in 1977.

2012:  43-15, 13-4
2012 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Donna Papa

Field Players:
Papa has 15 letter winners returning in 2012, including eight position players. Included in this group is outfielder Amy Nece who led the team in hitting (.353) and was fourth in the ACC. Nece is a junior and improved her batting considerably following her freshman year when she batted only .265. She also stole nine bases in 10 attempts in 2012 and started 52 games in centerfield, being named second-team All-ACC. Lost through graduation was Kelli Wheeler (.329, 12 homers and 36 RBI) who shared the team HR lead with Logan Foulks, who has also graduated, and Haleigh Dickey. Dickey also led team as well as the ACC in RBI (46) and will catch and play the infield in 2013 after starting 58 games at third and first in 2012. She has clubbed 31 homers in her first three years of college softball.

The 2012 pitching staff returns intact with 5-foot-11 junior Lori Spingola, Ashley Bone and Sara Buchholz.  Spingola was the ace of the staff with a 33-12 record and an ERA of 1.87. She hurled 13 shutouts and struck out 333 batters in 269.2 innings pitched.  She broke school records for wins and innings pitched and tied the school marks for starts (40) and appearances (49). She was named ACC Pitcher of the Year and was a first-team All-ACC selection. She has compiled a two-year record of 60-18-3 with an ERA of 1.80 with 618 strikeouts in 537 innings pitched. Bone compiled a 6-2 record and a 2.76 ERA while Buchholz was 4-1 with an ERA of 3.20, starting half of the 12 games she pitched.  It’s a solid staff with Spingola expected to lead the way again.

Who to Watch:
Spingola has been impressive in her first two years and is difficult to score against her as she allows less than two runs per game.

Final Projection:
The Tar Heels finished 24th in final USA TODAY/NFCA poll and figure to improve on that finish in 2013.  How the Tar Heels fare against the non-conference foes will go a long ways in determining what kind of year they will have.  This could be one of Papa’s best teams during her career at Chapel Hill.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Haleigh Dickey, C/IF, 174
Hits:  Amy Nece, OF, 47
Home Runs: Haleigh Dickey, C/IF, 12
RBIs: Haleigh Dickey, C/IF, 46
Runs: Amy Nece, OF, 31
Stolen Bases: Tish Mahon, OF, 13

Wins:  Lori Spingnola, P, 33
Innings Pitched: Lori Spingola P, 269.2
Strikeouts: Lori Spingola P/, 333
Saves: Lori Spingola, P, 1

Madness 2013 Softball Recruit Rankings:
#26 Erin Satterfield
#46 Kristen Brown
#76 Tracy Chandless


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