#26 North Carolina Softball 2014 Preview

North Carolina Tar Heels

Overall Rank: #26
Conference Rank: #2 ACC
#26 North Carolina Softball 2014 Preview
North Carolina Team Page


North Carolina is coming off of back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances. Last year's season included wins over highly-regarded teams such as LSU, Baylor, Florida State, Virginia Tech and North Carolina State. Thirteen of this year's players are underclassmen, including five freshmen, so this year's Tar Heels squad will be a young one.

2013: 40-21, 13-8
2013 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Donna J. Papa

Field Players:
The Tar Heels bring back three of their top four hitters from last year's team, including power hitter Kristen Brown. The sophomore had quite the collegiate debut, hitting .341, collecting 60 hits, including 12 doubles and 11 homers. She also brought in 34 runs.  Aquilla Mateen only started 32 of the 58 games she appeared in, but managed to finish second in average (.346), while being a menace on the base paths, stealing 18-of-21 bases. Amber Parrish hit .329, while hitting eight doubles and smacking seven home runs. Jillian Ferraro is listed as a catcher/infielder on the roster and will look to have a big impact on the team after being named a high school All-American twice in her high school career, including her senior year.

North Carolina returns its workhorse from last year, Lori Spingola, Last year, the now-senior picked up her second straight season of 30 or more wins (30) and struck out 304. Both were lower than the year before, but the Tar Heels had other players step into the circle as well. This year's recruiting class brought in two pitchers, including Kendra Lynch. The Indianapolis, Indiana native was named the 2013 Indiana Miss Softball. She is also a talented hitter, having totaled 164 hits and 96 RBIs in her first three years. She also holds six school and two state records for hits and doubles.

Who to Watch:
The sophomore class. Mateen, Brown, Jenna Kelly and Erin Satterfield each saw action in 57 or more games last year and Brown, Satterfield and Kelly each started at least 54 games. Satterfield finished fifth on the team with hits (39) and Kelly sixth (38). The two aren't big power hitters, but will get on base and with three more years in Chapel Hill, they can still develop some power. Will Brown be able to continue her power after the country having a year to learn all about her? For a power hitter, she doesn't strike out much, having fanned only 12 times in 176 at-bats.

Final Projection:
There's no reason to doubt North Carolina this year. Spingola is one of the country's top returning pitchers and the lineup is tough as well. The sophomores have experience now so that should help. The team also toughened its non-conference schedule, starting the season at the Louisiana-Lafayette tournament, where they face tough teams such as Texas and the host Cajuns. The weekend after the Tar Heels face Missouri and Louisville in the Jacksonville tournament and then Hawaii in the Hawaii Invitational. The Heels also have a tough matchup late in the year when they host Alabama on April 18th and 19th.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Kristen Brown, SS, 176
Hits: Kristen Brown, SS, 60
Home Runs: Kristen Brown, SS, 11
RBIs: Kristen Brown, SS, 34
Runs: Kristen Brown, SS, 39
Stolen Bases: Aquilla Mateen, OF, 18

Wins: Lori Spingola, P, 33
Innings Pitched: Lori Spingola, P, 283.1
Strikeouts: Lori Spingola, P, 304
Saves: Lori Spingola, P, 1; Ashley Bone, P, 1

Madness 2014 Softball Recruit Rankings:
#5 Jillian Ferraro


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