Softball Wins Share of SoCon Title, No. 1 Seed in Conference Tourney with 7-2 Senior Day Victory over ETSU
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Senior Day couldn't have gone much better for UNCG Sunday. Not only did the Spartans honor their four member senior class prior to first pitch against ETSU but the Blue & Gold earned a 7-2 victory over the Bucs to win a share of the Southern Conference regular season championship and the No. 1 seed in next week's SoCon tournament.
The championship is the first for UNCG since joining the SoCon in 1998 and the first conference regular season title for the Spartans since winning the Big South in 1996.
“We have been solid throughout conference play,” said head coach Janelle Breneman. “We set out for a SoCon championship and it takes sharpness every weekend. I felt like we did that winning every conference series but one. Coming in we obviously knew this series was going to be big but it was nice that we got to dictate our future and win the No. 1 seed in the tournament, that's huge.”
UNCG opened up scoring in the third when Marisa Sholtes (Albany, N.Y./South Colonie Central) smoked a single down the right field line, scoring Alexis Overdiep (Apex, N.C./Apex) from second. Just two pitches later, Rachael McClaskey (Pine Hill, N.J./Overbrook) crushed her eighth home run of the season, sending the ball cascading over the fence in right-center to put the Spartans up 4-0.
That third inning was big,” continued Breneman. “We started out well. We got our first two lead off kids on in the first and came up a little bit short but we were feeling good getting runners on. To put four runs on the board in the third gave Baz the ability to relax and stretch the corners a little bit more. She is throwing well too because she trusts her defense. They're making plays behind her and she's comfortable in rolling ground balls and letting them make the play. With her throwing the way she is and her trusting in her defense you saw what the results are.”
UNCG tacked on three more in the fourth inning on a towering blast off the bat of Gabrielle Cubbage (Felton, Del./Lake Forest), bringing Emily Acquaviva (New Hartford, N.Y./Stony Brook) and Jasmine Palmer (Biltmore Lake, N.C./Florida State) home to make it a 7-0 advantage for the Blue & Gold.
ETSU got two runs back in the sixth to cut the UNCG lead to five. The Buccaneers got the first two batters of the seventh on to put some pressure on the Spartans but UNCG was able to produce it's third double-play of the game, tying the program record, before McClaskey fielded a grounder and fired over the Sholtes at first to finish off Senior Day in championship fashion.
UNCG now turns its attention to the SoCon Tournament, to be held May 10-13 in Chattanooga, Tenn.