Softball Splits Wednesday Doubleheader with App State
BOONE, N.C. – It took a little while but UNCG’s bats warmed up on a chilly night up in the mountains as the Spartans split its midweek doubleheader with Appalachian State. The Blue and Gold fell 1-2 in the first game and out slugged the Mountaineers 11-9 in the nightcap.
“We were not as aggressive as I would have liked to have seen in game one,” said head coach Janelle Breneman. “But in game two we really battled at the plate. I thought we had a lot of quality, extended pitch at bats and we really put some runs on the board.”
Despite a solid showing in the circle, Alicia Bazonski (Sheffield, Mass./Mount Everett) received the loss in the first game. The righty threw all six innings, surrendering two runs on six hits, striking out three.
“I thought Baz threw a really great game,” stated Breneman. “Unfortunately we didn’t have the runs behind her but she was tremendous. She’s looking good for this weekend.”
The Spartans missed a golden opportunity to score in the third, when the first two batters reached and the bases were loaded with one out recorded. Unfortunately UNCG couldn’t take advantage as pinch-hitter Kayleigh Willis (Virginia Beach, Va./Frank W. Cox) popped out to the shortstop and Gabrielle Cubbage (Felton, Del./Lake Forest) struck out swinging.
Bazonski didn’t make many mistakes during the outing but the one she made to Jenny Dodd was a costly one. With a runner on second base, Dodd took a Bazonski offering deep to right-center, putting App State up 2-0 on the two-run home run.
The Spartans cut the lead in half in the top of the sixth as Sidney Grkman (Salisbury, N.C./Jesse Carson) got a hold of a Kenzie Longanecker pitch and plowed it over the fence in center field for her second long ball of the season.
UNCG’s comeback attempt would fall short as Cubbage was frozen on a pitch on the outside corner for strike three, stranding the tying run at second base.
Kylie Bouplon (Wilson, N.C./Forsyth Country Day) tossed a complete game in the night cap to earn the win. The freshman was tagged for nine runs on nine hits but posted a season-high 13 strikeouts, the most for UNCG since Stephanie Bryden (Orlando, Fla./East River) matched that number last season against Bryant.
“Kylie really battled,” said Breneman. “She seemed to get stronger as the game went on, which is big. She was really hitting her spots. Making them chase, jamming them in and getting ahead in the count. I thought she really fought and it was nice to see her really competing in the circle and us attacking in the box.”
The Mountaineers jumped all over Bouplon in the first frame, knocking an RBI single off the center field wall followed by a grand slam just inside the foul pole in left. After one, the Spartans were facing a 5-0 deficit.
UNCG completely flipped the script in the third inning. Rachael McClaskey (Pine Hill, N.J./Overbrook) led off the frame with a solo home run to center. Cubbage, Tory Wright (Potomac Falls, Va./Dominion) and Grkman followed with singles and Jordan Gontram (Wake Forest, N.C./Lake Forest) cleared the bases with a towering grand slam off of the roof of the indoor practice facility for the Mountaineer football program.
“Jordan’s grand slam was huge,” continued Breneman. “That really gave us a kick start. It started with good at-bats getting on base for that big fly to count for four.”
The rally wasn’t finished there, Emily Acquaviva (New Hartford, N.Y./Stony Brook) walked and Emily Lopez (Charlotte, N.C./Olympic) was hit by a pitch. Rebecca Kale (Hudson, N.C./South Caldwell) brought Acquaviva home with a single through the left side and Alexis Overdiep (Apex, N.C./Apex) plated Lopez with an infield single off of the pitcher. When it was all said and done the Spartans had scored seven runs on seven hits in the frame.
The Mountaineers didn’t take long to tie the game back up. ASU led off the bottom of the third with a single and Ally Walters hammered her second homer of the game over the scoreboard in left-center.
The Blue and Gold used its speed to regain the lead in the fifth. Lopez started things off by drawing a leadoff walk and stole second. After she was moved to third on a grounder, Overdiep delivered a clutch two-out single through the left side to score the fleet-of-foot second baseman.
The lead again, though, didn’t last long as App State came back with an RBI double off the wall in center field to square the game back up at 8 apiece. One inning later, the Mountaineers took the lead on a solo smash off the bat of Cara Parker.
But the Spartans wouldn’t give up the fight. Acquaviva and Lopez both walked to lead off the seventh and moved up on a passed ball. That set the stage for McClaskey, who drilled a double off the right field fence to score the pair and put UNCG ahead. McClaskey came home a little while later on a Wright single to left field and the Spartans took an 11-9 lead into the bottom half.
Bouplon did her part to seal the deal, striking out the side in the seventh to slam the door shut and salvage a split in the midweek doubleheader.
UNCG opens Southern Conference action this weekend with a three-game series against Western Carolina Saturday and Sunday at the UNCG Softball Stadium.