CONWAY, S.C. – UNCG softball opened its 2018 season with a resounding 14-0 win over Presbyterian (0-2) in five innings in the Kickin’ Chicken Classic on Friday afternoon. Marisa Sholtes (Albany, N.Y./South Colonie Central) led the way with two home runs, and Alicia Bazonski (Sheffield, Mass./Mount Everett) and Stephanie Bryden (Orlando, Fla./East River) combined for a one-hit shutout.
The 14 runs by UNCG were the most scored in program history for a season-opener.
Kayleigh Willis (Virginia Beach, Va./Frank W. Cox) got the lead for the Spartans in the top of the first inning. Gabi Cubbage (Felton, Del./Lake Forest) drew a two-out walk and advanced to third on a wild pitch. After Sholtes walked, Willis singled up the middle.
The most runs scored in an inning by UNCG came in the second. Emily Acquaviva (New Hartford, N.Y./Stony Brook) led off with a walk, went to second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on a grounder by Alexis Overdiep (Apex, N.C./Apex). After Becca Kale (Hudson, N.C./South Caldwell) was hit by a pitch and stole second base, Jasmine Palmer (Cander, N.C./ Florida State) knocked in Acquaviva with an infield single that also advanced Kale to third. Kale scored on a bunt single by Makenna Matthijs (Greenville, N.C./D.H. Conley). With one out Sholtes drew another walk. Willis hit another RBI-single, this time to left field that brought home Matthijs and Palmer. Rachael McClaskey (Pine Hill, N.J./Overbrook) then hit a RBI-single to left center that knocked in Sholtes for the fifth run of the inning.
After a scoreless third inning, the Spartans produced four runs in the fourth. Matthijs led off with a double to left center, and Cubbage followed with a single up the middle. Sholtes then hit her first homer of the day with a shot past the centerfield wall. With one out McClaskey singled to left center. After a groundout that moved McClaskey to second, Bryden hit a RBI-single down the right field line.
UNCG added another four runs an inning later. Matthijs doubled to right center with an out, and Cubbage followed once again with a single to right field. A passed ball allowed Matthijs to score, and Sholtes hit another home run to center field. Willis was hit by a pitch, and McClaskey singled up the middle. Acquaviva was then hit by a pitch, and Kale got plunked by a ball with two outs that allowed pinch-runner Breanna Butcher (Walkertown, N.C./Walkertown) to walk home for the final run of the game.
Bazonski started in the circle for the Spartans and allowed just a hit and walk in three innings with two strikeouts. Bryden relieved her for the final two innings and struck out four batters with no walks or hits allowed.
All 10 UNCG batters reached base. Sholtes produced a game-high five RBI, Willis had three and five other Spartans knocked in a run. Sholtes reached base in all four plate appearances with two of the three walks by UNCG.
Matthijs had three hits and three runs in her collegiate debut. Cubbage also had three hits and three runs. McClaskey finished with three hits and a run, and Willis had two hits.
The Spartans will play twice tomorrow in the tournament. They will face the host school Coastal Carolina at 5:00 p.m. and then Saint. Francis (Pa.) afterwards.
-- UNCG --