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GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG softball opens the 2018 season this weekend at the Kickin’ Chicken Classic at Coastal Carolina in Conway, South Carolina. The Spartans will play on Friday-Sunday in the tournament.

UNCG opens play Friday against Presbyterian at 12:00 p.m. The Spartans will play a doubleheader on Saturday, first taking on the host school at 5:00 p.m. and then facing Saint Francis (Pa.) afterwards. UNCG ends the tournament with Iowa State on Sunday at 9:30 a.m.

Live stats will be available at UNCGSpartans.com.

Southern Conference preseason favorite UNCG returns seven position starters and the whole pitching staff from last year’s squad that shared the conference regular season championship for the first time in program history with a 29-24, 11-6 record. The Spartans placed five players on the preseason all-league teams. Pitcher Alicia Bazonski (Sheffield, Mass./Mount Everett), first baseman Marisa Sholtes (Albany, N.Y./South Colonie Central) and second baseman Jasmine Palmer (Cander, N.C./ Florida State) garnered first team honors while seniors third baseman Gabi Cubbage (Felton, Del./Lake Forest) and shortstop Rachael McClaskey (Pine Hill, N.J./Overbrook) were selected to the second team. All five earned all-league honors last season.

Coastal Carolina was picked to finish seventh in the Sun Belt Preseason Coaches' poll for its second season in the conference. The Chanticleers had a 32-23, 10-16 record last season. They return 13 players from a year ago and are led by redshirt senior infielder/catcher Amanda Daneker, senior outfielders Kailey Mellen and Timi Tooley and junior pitcher Ashley Guillette.

UNCG and Coastal Carolina have split their series at 12-12. Last season in Coastal’s Battle at the Beach Tournament, the Spartans won one game 2-1 while the Chants won the other game 12-2 (five innings). 

Saint Francis are the unanimous favorites in the Northeast Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll after going 49-11 last season.  The Red Flash set a program and NEC record for wins while also going 19-0 against NEC opponents to win its first ever NEC Title.  The Red Flash made its first ever NCAA Regional appearance and earned the program and SFU Athletics' first NCAA Tournament win. Saint Francis returns 12 players from last year's roster, including six three First Team All-NEC selections: senior first baseman Madison Cabell, junior outfielder Sierra McKee and senior shortstop Jordan Seneca. 

The Spartans have won eight of the nine meetings against the Red Flash and swept Saint Francis 3-1 and 8-6 on Feb. 19, 2011 in the First Pitch Classic in Charlotte.

Iowa State softball enters the season under new head coach Jamie Pinkerton, who previously led Montana, to a Big Sky conference title and NCAA Tournament berth in the programs' third year of existence. Last year the Cyclones finished fifth in the Big 12 with a 23-35 record overall, while going 6-12 in league play. Among the returning starters are two NFCA All-Midwest Region First Team honorees in senior outfielder Kelsey McFarland and sophomore infielder Sami Williams.

Iowa State has won both games against UNCG with a 4-2 win on March 5, 2006 in the Charleston Southern Tournament in the last meeting.

Presbyterian was picked seventh in the Big South Preseason Coaches’ Poll after finishing last season 18-32, 7-14. The Blue Hose return five starters and are led by infielders junior Jonnie Petree, junior Megan Anderson and sophomore Presley Bissett.

UNCG has won two of the three meetings against Presbyterian. The teams split two games in 2015 in the Hampton Inn and Suites Seahawk Softball Invitational in Wilmington. The Spartans and Blue Hose will square off once again on April, 10 at UNCG Softball Stadium.

The Kickin’ Chicken Classic Central Page, which includes the full schedule as well as links to each team’s website and live coverage options can be found at this link.

-- UNCG --