The Diamond Heels are off to the start that everyone thought they’d have to begin the season. The play from their veterans and young freshmen has really created a balanced, yet lethal, combination that has been impossible to overcome at this point in the season. These type of starts aren’t uncommon for a Mike Fox led team, especially for one that was considered number one preseason by several media outlets. However, this Tar Heel team knows that just because you start well, in the long run, it’s all about how you finish.
Last season, the Tar Heels finished ranked in the top 10 across the board and were granted one of those coveted top 8 seeds in the NCAA tournament that gave them home field advantage all the way to the College World Series in Omaha, NE should they advance that far. We know all too well what happened after that. The Tar Heels dropped an early game to St John’s University thanks to a late home run and were forced to play catch up in the regional. The Tar Heels would eventually fall to the hands of St John’s once more before surrendering their season on their home field. It was, needless to say, an unexpected and low feeling for a team that had tons of promise.
Yesterday, the Tar Heels got to exact a little bit of revenge. Check that, the Tar Heels got exact a lot of revenge. St John’s arrived into Chapel Hill for another rematch against Carolina, but this time, things didn’t go in their favor. The Tar Heels walloped the Red Storm to the tune of 18-5, to improve to 7-0 on the season, and left a painful reminder that last season would not be forgotten so easily.
All in all, the pitching for the Tar Heels was good, but it was certainly a collective effort. Freshman Trent Thornton got the start and the win with a solid four inning performance that included three strikeouts. The real story, however, was the Tar Heel offense. The team tallied a season high 17 hits and drew 11 walks. The stars of the day (if you could figure out who to pick) were Cody Stubbs and Tom Zengel who both drove in 3 runs a piece which was a team high on the afternoon. It was also a big turn out for utility man Michael Russell who went 3 for 5 on the afternoon and scored 3 of the many Tar Heel runs on the afternoon. Russell may have led the team in the runs scored statistic, but he was one of ten Carolina batters that came around to score on the day.
The top ranked Heels look to continue their mean streak down in Houston this weekend for the Astros Foundation College Classic where they will face Rice, California, and Texas A&M in a round robin bracket.