Softball Takes Two in Extras at the Bailey Memorial Tournament
KENNESAW, Ga.- UNCG softball had a flair for the dramatic on Friday at the Bailey Memorial Tournament, needing extra innings in both games to defeat UAB and Kennesaw State at Bailey Park.
Despite a lack of offensive production from both sides, the early game against UAB couldn’t have been much more exciting. Each team only registered a single hit as both starting pitchers took turns dispensing of their opponent’s batters.
The closest thing to a run in regulation came off of the bat of Jordan Gontram (Wake Forest, N.C./Heritage), who barreled up a Cara Goodwin offering and sent a ball to deep left field. If not for a strong wind pushing in, the freshman may have had her fourth home run of the season.
Alicia Bazonski (Sheffield, Mass./Mount Everett) made it through the first seven innings without registering a hit but with international tie-breaker rules in effect, the Blazers were finally able to muster some offense off of the junior pitcher. Bazonski hit the first batter that she faced, Analyse Petree and two batters latter gave up a two-RBI single to Mary Warren to break up the no-no.
The Spartans immediately put pressure on UAB in the bottom half with Rachael McClaskey (Pine Hill, N.J./Overbrook) drawing a walk and Emily Acquaviva (New Hartford, N.Y./Stony Brook) and Jasmine Palmer (Lake Biltmore, N.C./Florida State) wearing pitches to score a run and load the bases with no outs for pinch-hitter Hagan Kiser (Asheboro, N.C./Southwestern).
However, things quickly took a turn for UNCG as Kiser fouled out to the catcher and Gabrielle Cubbage (Felton, Del./Lake Forest) grounded into a fielder’s choice. Just like that, the Spartans were down to their final out.
It twice looked like Gontram had hit into the final out for the Blue and Gold but following a dropped foul ball by the first baseman, the freshman’s fly ball to center field was dropped and Emily Lopez (Charlotte, N.C./Olympic) and Acquaviva came home to give UNCG the walk-off victory.
Bazonski finished the game allowing just a single hit in eight innings of work, striking out six Blazers.
“Baz is really throwing well,” said head coach Janelle Breneman. “She’s putting the ball where she wants it and spinning it. Offensively we were a little bit lax, that kid kept us off balance. But Alicia stayed composed.”
It took the Spartans far less time to jump on the scoreboard in the second game of the day against the host Owls. UNCG plated one in the opening frame on a looping RBI double by Marisa Sholtes (Albany, N.Y./South Colonie Central) over the head of the third baseman.
UNCG tacked on another run in both the third and fourth innings. In the third, Gontram plowed a double to the gap in right-center, bringing Palmer around. Acquaviva got the fourth started with a double off of the left field wall and came around a few batters later on a pinch-hit two-bagger to right by Kiser.
KSU started off the bottom of the fourth with four-straight singles but Kylie Bouplon (Wilson, N.C./Forsyth County Day) was able to settle down and limit the damage to a pair of runs, maintaining a 3-2 lead for the Spartans.
UNCG gave itself a little bit of cushion in the sixth. After an Acquaviva leadoff double, Rebecca Kale (Hudson, N.C./South Caldwell) moved her over with a sacrifice bunt and Alexis Overdiep brought her home with a single to right field, putting the Spartans up two with two innings left in the field.
That cushion, however, did not last long. The Owls came back with two runs in the bottom of the sixth, knotting the score at 4-4. Things got tense in the seventh as KSU loaded the bases with one out on the board but Bouplon produced a strikeout and a grounder to second to send the Spartans into extras for the second time on the day.
With Lopez placed on second to start the inning, McClaskey hit every stitch of a Logan Viers offering, sending a shot over the fence in right field.
KSU made things interesting with a run in the eighth but Bouplon was able to freeze Lauren Bennett for a strikeout to slam the door shut. The freshman earned her second win of the season, tossing all eight innings while allowing three earned runs on eight hits, striking out four along the way.
“I thought Kylie pitched an outstanding game,” stated Breneman. “In the box, we looked composed and were attacking. We found ways to get on, we were selective and came up big with clutch hits when we needed them. We got offense up and down the lineup and obviously Rachael squared one up, which was nice to see.”
UNCG returns to Bailey Park Saturday at 10:00 a.m., battling Akron. A link to live stats is available at UNCGSpartans.com.