Softball Earns Doubleheader Split against Furman Saturday
GREENVILLE, S.C. – It was a tale of two ball games for UNCG on Saturday as the Spartans were shut out in a tight pitchers duel in the first game against Furman before exploding offensively in Game Two, defeating the Paladins 11-0 in five innings.
Alicia Bazonski (Sheffield, Mass./Mount Everett) produced a gem in the circle despite wearing the loss in the first game. The junior allowed a single run on seven hits, striking out six along the way.
“I thought Baz did a really nice job,” said head coach Janelle Breneman. “Furman is a tough offensive team but she kept them off and we made some nice plays defensively. It was a well played game, we just came up on the short end.”
Both teams struggled to get anything going offensively with no runs being scored through the first six and a half innings. UNCG’s best chance to break through came in the sixth when Gabrielle Cubbage (Felton, Del./Lake Forest) and Emily Acquaviva (New Hartford, N.Y./Stony Brook) singled and Sidney Grkman (Salisbury, N.C./Jesse Carson) reached on an error to load the bases. However, Jordan Gontram (Wake Forest, N.C./Heritage) flied out to center during the next at bat to snuff out the threat.
The Paladins finally broke the tie in walk-off fashion in the seventh, loading the bases with a pair of singles and a hit-by-pitch. Brittany Cash provided the heroics, scoring the winning run with a single off the fence in right field.
“That first game was definitely a tight pitcher’s duel,” continued Breneman. “It was going to come down to who was going to get two hits in an inning and unfortunately we fell a little short. We just couldn’t manage to find the gap with runners on. We came up with a couple of doubles but with one or two outs each time. We gave ourselves some chances but failed to come up with the clutch hit when we needed it.”
In the later game, Kylie Bouplon (Winston-Salem, N.C./Forsyth Country Day) picked up the shutout win with just two hits allowed over four full innings, striking out three. Mackenzie Winslow (Mooresville, N.C./Lake Norman) came on in relief to throw one inning, holding the Paladins off the board while allowing a single hit.
While UNCG struggled to find its offensive footing in the first game, the Spartans came out hacking in the later affair. Jasmine Palmer (Lake Biltmore, N.C./Florida State) got things started with a sharply hit single up the middle and Alexis Overdiep (Apex, N.C./Apex) reached on a fielder’s choice as Palmer beat the throw to second on the sacrifice bunt. Cubbage also laid a sacrifice bunt and the throw from the first baseman went awry, allowing Palmer to come home.
Marisa Sholtes (Albany, N.Y./South Colonie Central) brought home Overdiep with a two-bagger to right-center and Acquaviva reached on another error at first as Cubbage crossed the plate. Following a Grkman ground out and a Gontram walk, Rebecca Kale (Hudson, N.C./South Caldwell) laced a two-RBI double to the gap in left-center, making it 5-0 UNCG.
Following a Rachael McClaskey (Pine Hill, N.J./Overbrook) strikeout, Palmer registered her second single of the inning, ripping a pitch through the left side to score Gontram and Kale came home on a throwing error from left field. Overdiep walked to put two on for Cubbage, who brought them both around with a double to left-center. Cubbage wasn’t on base long as Sholtes crushed a single off the very top of the fence in left. When all was said and done, UNCG had scored 10 runs on seven hits, giving Bouplon ample early run support.
“The kids weren’t happy after Game One and they responded,” stated Breneman. “I think they realized what our offensive potential is. To get shut out in the first game I think fired us up to be more aggressive at the plate. That was a big first inning for us. We squared some balls up and hit them hard. We got a few breaks from Furman but we were able to find the gap and take advantage.”
In the fifth, pinch hitter Kayleigh Willis (Virginia Beach, Va./Frank W. Cox) added a run of insurance, scoring McClaskey with an RBI single up the middle.
That was far more than enough help for Bouplon who held the Paladins off of the board through her four innings of work before turning things over to Winslow, who closed out the game with a scoreless fifth.
“Kylie did a nice job using her off speed and keeping them guessing,” concluded Breneman. “Obviously with a 10-run lead you can relax a little bit and attack and I though she did a nice job of that. She got ahead early and attacked the corners, staying off the middle of the plate. It was nice to see Mack come in and roll a nice ground ball when we needed it to close out the job. Those two young ladies did a nice job behind the offensive effort.”
With the threat of heavy rainfall in the Greenville area, Sunday's series finale has been moved up to an 11:00 a.m. start time.