BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – UNCG softball (43-10, 13-2) won its second-straight and first outright Southern Conference Regular Season Championship with 5-3 and 9-2 victories over the Samford Bulldogs (17-36, 6-9) on Saturday at Samford Softball Stadium. The Spartans will be the No. 1 seed and get a first-round bye for the conference tournament that starts next Wednesday at UNCG Softball Stadium. 

UNCG scored first in the third inning of the first game. Jasmine Palmer hit a one-out double to left field. After Marisa Sholtes drew a two-out walk, the bases became loaded after an error from the second baseman on a fielder’s choice from Gabi Cubbage. Palmer slide in safely at home on a wild pitch.

The Spartans scored the next two runs in the fifth inning. Makenna Matthijs led off with a double to right center, and Sholtes walked again. After a sac bunt by Cubbage, Jordan Gontram knocked in both runners on a single down the left field line.

After Samford got on the board with a two-out solo homer to left field in the bottom of the inning, UNCG responded with a homer of its own. With Matthijs on first base with two outs, Sholtes crushed the first ball she saw for her 14th homer of the year to centerfield.

The Bulldogs cut their deficit to two runs in the bottom of the inning with another home run to left field, this time a two-run shot. Samford then had the game-winning run at the plate with runners on the corners in the seventh inning with two outs, but first baseman Sholtes fielded a ground out to end the game.

Alicia Bazonski (17-5) threw her 13th complete game of the year, allowing three runs, 11 hits and two walks with four strikeouts.

The Spartans collected seven hits and seven walks in the game. Sholtes and Palmer both went 1-2 with two walks, and Gontram was 2-3 as the only player with multiple hits.

UNCG once again scored first in the second game in the fourth inning. After consecutive singles through the infield to start by Matthijs and Sholtes, Matthijs beat out a throw at third base from the pitcher on a fielder’s choice. Fouling off five pitches on a full count, Gontram smoked a pitch over the netting in left field for a grand slam.

Samford scored in the bottom of the inning with a run on a fielding error. Its last run came in the next inning on a two-out solo homer to left field.

The Spartans responded in the next inning. Gontram led off with a single to centerfield and advanced to second base on a sac bunt by Emily Acquaviva. With two outs, Becca Kale hit the first pitch she saw to left field for her first homer of the year. 

UNCG added three insurance runs in the seventh inning. Leadoff batter Palmer was hit by a pitch. With two outs Cubbage singled to left field. Gontram then hit her second homer of the day to centerfield for her 12th homer of the year.

Hannah Stiltner (8-3) threw her fourth complete game of the year. Stiltner gave up one earned run, four hits and six walks with three strikeouts.

Gontram led the way at the plate, where the Spartans had 11 hits. She went 3-4 with seven RBIs, tying for second-most in a single game in program history. Matthijs and Sholtes both went 2-4, while Kale was 2-3. 

UNCG and Samford close out the series on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.

-- UNCG –