After a seesaw regular season, the Syracuse Orange softball team heads to the ACC Tournament down in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Thursday
SU earned the sixth seed after going 10-10 in ACC play (and 31-18 overall). They’ll face No. 3 North Carolina in the first round. It’s a tie for the highest seed the Orange have ever had in the ACC. Syracuse beat UNC 3-1 during the regular season, and dropped the second game 11-10. The Orange are 4-7 all-time against the Tar Heels.
Despite being the sixth seed in the conference, the Orange have performed a bit higher than that as a team -- at least in terms of the stats. SU is second in batting average in the conference, at .309, and also finished among the top four in on-base percentage, runs, hits, RBIs, doubles and triples. Syracuse’s pitchers also thrived. They recorded 366 strike outs (most in the ACC), and were top-four in ERA and opposing batting average as well.
There are plenty of players to point to when looking at the Orange’s success this season, but it’s probably best to start with Sydney O’Hara. The senior from nearby Cicero, N.Y. has left her mark on the program in her final season. Chris Carlson had a great profile on her today, so go read that. But the top-line stats for O’Hara this year:
.480 batting average, .837 slugging percentage, 42 RBIs, nine home runs and 37 runs scored — all in 48 games.
Despite those accolades, O’Hara and the Orange will still have their work cut out for them against North Carolina. The Heels were 36-18 overall and 14-9 in league play — but 23-6 at home (where the ACC Tournament will be held). One saving grace could be UNC’s recent slide, however. The team’s lost five straight to end the year, and seven of its last eight.
Florida State’s clearly the best team in the conference this year, having dominated the ACC en route to a perfect 24-0 record. But in a single-elimination tournament, anything’s possible.
Syracuse and North Carolina will play at 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, May 11. The winner (hopefully the Orange will go on to face No. 2 Louisville or No. 7 NC State at 3:30 p.m. on Friday. SU is a combined 1-3 against those teams, though all of those contests took place a little earlier in the season (the Orange have improved since). As mentioned previously, Syracuse would need to sweep through all three games this weekend in order to earn an NCAA Tournament bid (the program’s fourth since first sponsoring the sport in 2000).
You can watch the action on your local RSN or ACC Network Extra.