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CULLOWHEE, N.C. – UNCG softball (28-7, 6-0) defeated Western Carolina (8-17, 0-3) 9-7 in a wild and back-and-forth game on Saturday afternoon at Catamount Softball Complex for the series sweep and 13-straight win. The game had three lead changes and one tie, and both teams left 14 runners on base.

Western Carolina got on the board first in the first inning. With the bases loaded, a two-RBI single dropped in left field.

UNCG tied it up in the second inning. Leadoff hitter Jasmine Palmer (Cander, N.C./ Florida State) smacked the second pitch she saw for a homer to left field, her third in the last five games. The bases were loaded after a fielding error on a grounder by Jordan Gontram (Wake Forest, N.C./Heritage), bunt single by Becca Kale (Hudson, N.C./South Caldwell) and walk from Rachael McClaskey (Pine Hill, N.J./Overbrook). With one out Makenna Matthijs (Greenville, N.C./D.H. Conley) hit a sacrifice fly to the warning track in centerfield to knock in Gontram.

The Spartans took the lead the next inning. With Gontram on first base, Kale was hit by a pitch. McClaskey then singled up the middle to bring home Gontram. Two-straight walks by Alexis Overdiep (Apex, N.C./Apex) and Matthijs produced another run.

The Catamounts got a run in the bottom of the inning. After placing two runners in scoring position with no outs following a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt, a sacrifice fly to centerfield produced the run.

UNCG extended its lead to 6-3 in the fourth inning. With two outs Palmer was plunked by a pitch and Gontram walked. Kale got a RBI-single to centerfield, and McClaskey then had her own RBI-single up the middle. 

Western Carolina took back the lead in the bottom of the inning by capitalizing off several defensive and pitching mistakes. A throwing error on a sac bunt allowed the first run. Two-straight passed balls tied the game up, and the lead was taken on a hit by pitch with the bases loaded. Stephanie Bryden (Orlando, Fla./East River) stopped the bleeding when she entered the circle and struck out two-straight batters.

The Spartans reacquired the lead in the follow inning. Matthijs led off with a single through the left side and went to second base on a sac bunt by Gabi Cubbage (Felton, Del./Lake Forest). Marisa Sholtes (Albany, N.Y./South Colonie Central) brought Matthijs home on a double that hit off the right field fence. Sholtes then scored on a single up the middle by Bryden.

UNCG added an insurance run in the last inning. Cubbage reached base on a fielding error by the shortstop and went to second base on a wild pitch. Bryden put runners on the corners with a single to right field. Back-to-back walks by Gontram and Kale allowed Cubbage to jog home for the run.

Bryden (12-1) picked up her second win of the series and third of the week. She threw 3.2 scoreless innings with one hit, three walks and six strikeouts.

Kylie Bouplon (Winston-Salem, N.C./Forsyth Country Day) started in the circle for UNCG and lasted two innings, allowing two earned runs, six hits and no walks with two strikeouts. Hannah Stiltner (Mebane, N.C./ Eastern Alamance) replaced Bouplon in the third inning and pitched one inning with two unearned runs, one hit, one walk and one strikeout. Alicia Bazonski (Sheffield, Mass./Mount Everett) recorded one out afterwards and gave up two unearned runs, no hits and two walks with a strikeout.

Kale, McClaskey and Matthijs all had two RBIs. Kale and McClaskey also collected two hits as well as Bryden. Gontram had three runs while Palmer scored twice.

UNCG will play its third-straight in-state opponent on the road with a trip to Chapel Hill to face North Carolina on Wednesday at 5 p.m. 

-- UNCG –