Heels Ready For Another Flack Attack

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- Sportswriters scurry around in the summer looking for something to write about. A popular subject this spring has been a so-called slump from North Carolina slugging third baseman Chad Flack. But if there's a problem with Flack right now, he doesn't seem to know about it. And neither does anybody else.

OK, so he nailed the Tar Heels' first home run since May 19, and in doing so put Sunday's decisive Game Three versus South Carolina out of reach. He's now hitting .317 in the postseason, but batting .384 with 13 homers and a school-record 112 hits last year, his average fell to .251 with just seven dingers during the regular season.

"It was very tough on me in the beginning," Flack said. "But I just prayed a lot about it, and it gave me the strength to keep carrying on and keep enjoying what I was doing. Not many people are in my situation, so I just came out here and enjoyed my teammates; and whatever happened, happened.

"I've been lucky my whole life not going through it, and this year was it. It's just one of those things you've got to work through. We've just got to go to Omaha and win it all, and hopefully everybody will forget about stats," he said.

No problem. Flack, whose dramatic homer against Alabama at Tuscaloosa propelled UNC to the CWS last season, is hot again at the right time. If Reggie Jackson was Mr. October, then, well, Flack must be Mr. June?

"The season starts over with," Flack said. "To me it's the way baseball is. Some of the best in the major leagues go through the same thing."

The Tar Heels (53-13) are the first in school history to make back-to-back CWS appearances, propelled by a 10-1 record in Regionals and Super Regionals over the past two seasons.

Over those two years, Flack has come up as big as anyone, batting .380, with four homers and 22 RBI. His eighth inning triple in the championship series opener versus Oregon State was the game winner, giving the Tar Heels a 1-0 lead before their unforgettable collapse in Game Two.

Carolina has hit well up and down the order, but having Flack contributing again in a major way provides important protection in the middle of the lineup.

"Chad is a special guy," Horton said. "He's a team leader."

"Everybody's talked about Chad Flack and the year he's had for us," North Carolina coach Mike Fox added. "But there's probably not a bigger swing of the bat than that home run."

But Carolina doesn't count on home runs to carry the team, and Flack said that's a reason for the Tar Heels' recent success.

"Once you rely on the home run, then you're going to go through a drought, and it's easy to get beat there at times," Flack said.

UNC opens in Omaha versus Mississippi State (38-20) Friday at 7 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.

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