Charlotte, N.C.- Lexi Betancourt struck out a career-high 10 Tar Heels on StriKeOut Cancer Night as the Niners won its third straight game with a walk-off victory over North Carolina 4-3 thanks to Jackie Kleinsmith's RBI infield single. Charlotte moved to 13-15 on the season and sent North Carolina (18-16) home with its second loss in a row visiting Charlotte.
"We never let go of the fact that we could come back and get a run," said Aimee Devos. "It took two innings to do it piece by piece but they (North Carolina) gave us the opportunity to do it. Anytime we get to play Carolina it fires the girls up. Never giving up. Never letting up. It allowed us to keep the game in reach the whole time."
"That is what Lexi has been for us all season. There is not anyone mentally stronger than she is out there. To be able to shut them down and big strike outs to their three and four hitters, it shows what she can do and the team feeds off of her."
Lexi Betancourt (Garner, N.C./ West Johnson HS) and Samantha Slade (Apex, N.C./ Apex HS) led the way for the Niners picking up two hits apiece. Slade, Jessica Plemmons (Lexington, N.C. / North Davidson HS) and Jackie Kleinsmith (Santa Maria, Calif. / Righetti HS) had a RBI a piece in the victory. Betancourt picked up the victory and moved to 12-8 on the season.
Charlotte struggled at the plate the first time through the line-up going nine-up and nine-down without a base runner to reach. North Carolina's starter Kendra Lynch kept the Niners off balance.
North Carolina broke the scoreless tie in the top of the second inning. Jenna Kelly led off the second with a solo home run to left field for the early 1-0 lead. Kati Causey drew a walk and came around to score on an error down the left field line, giving the Tar Heels a 2-0 lead.
Natalie Capone (St. Charles, Ill. / North St. Charles) picked up the first hit for the Niners in the bottom of the fourth inning with a base knock up through the right side of the infield. Sam Slade followed Capone with a single into center field. Chelsea Lisikatos (Cold Spring, N.Y./ Haldene HS) would bring Capone around to score reaching on an infield error cutting into the deficit 2-1.
The Niners would tie things up at two-all in the bottom of the fifth inning. Jessie Fennell (Blaine, Tenn./ Grainger HS) hit a blooper over the second basemen's head for a single. Betancourt would follow suit with a blooper into to right field. Sam Slade would bring around Hayley Lewis (Concord, N.C./ Jay M. Robinson HS), running for Fennell, around to score for the tying run.
North Carolina would retake the lead in the top of the seventh after loading the bases. Elena Covert singled up the middle to start the Tar Heel rally. Aquilla Mateen picked up her third hit of the game on a bunt single to third base. Betancourt would walk two Tar Heels to give North Carolina the lead, 3-2.
Lexi Betancourt beat out a swinging bunt and advanced to second base on a wild pitch to open the inning. Sam Slade walked followed by Jessica Plemmons' (Lexington, N.C./ North Davidson HS) RBI single to center scoring Betancourt from second to tie things at three-all. With runners at second and third with two outs, Kleinsmith grabbed the walk-off RBI with an infield single to a diving shortstop for the 4-3 victory.
Lexi Betancourt picked up the win tossing seven innings allowing three runs (two earned) off seven hits and striking out a career-high 10 batters. UNC's starter Kendra Lynch pitched five innings allowing two runs off five hits in a no-decision. Lauren Batten picked up the loss in the circle tossing the final 1.2 innings allowing two runs off three hits.
Charlotte out-hit North Carolina 8-7 while picking up 10 strike outs in the circle and striking out three times at the plate.
Charlotte will head out west to San Antonio to take on UTSA in a three-game Conference USA series, April 5-6. Game time is scheduled for 2 pm.