GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG softball will face in-state rival Elon Phoenix this weekend in a three-game series. The Spartans will host the first game on Friday at 3 p.m., and the Phoenix will host a doubleheader the next day starting at 1 p.m. to close out the series at UNCG Softball Stadium.
Live stats will be available at UNCGSpartans.com for each game.
Last weekend the Spartans went 2-3 in the Ninth Annual Bulldog Classic. UNCG won both of its games on Friday to begin the tournament, defeating Jacksonville State 3-2 in nine innings and Radford 6-2 afterwards.
The win over Jacksonville State was the first extra-inning game this season for UNCG. The Spartans had a 2-0 lead entering the sixth inning on a pair of RBI-singles by Stephanie Bryden (Orlando, Fla./East River) and Makenna Matthijs (Greenville, N.C./D.H. Conley). Marisa Sholtes (Albany, N.Y./South Colonie Central) ended the game by scoring on a fielding error by the shortstop on a grounder by Kayleigh Willis (Virginia Beach, Va./Frank W. Cox). Bryden recorded all 27 outs for the Spartans. She gave up seven hits, two earned runs and no walks with 12 strikeouts, just one off her career-high.
In the victory over Radford UNCG broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the second inning on a Matthijs two-RBI single up the middle. UNCG increased its lead on a sacrifice fly to right field by Jordan Gontram (Wake Forest, N.C./Heritage). The Spartans added two insurance runs in the sixth inning. Alicia Bazonski (Sheffield, Mass./Mount Everett) threw her third complete game of the season, allowing seven hits, one earned run and three walks with seven strikeouts. She threw four scoreless innings to end the game with just one hit given up.
The following day Radford won a 1-0 game over UNCG with the only run scored in the bottom of the first inning. UNCG had just four hits in the game. Hannah Stiltner (Mebane, N.C./ Eastern Alamance) pitched a complete game, allowing one run, five hits and four walks with three strikeouts.
The host school, then-No. 14/14 Georgia, took both meetings against UNCG 7-0 and 6-1. The Spartans limited the Bulldogs below their average of 8.86 runs per game entering the weekend, which led the nation.
A month into the year, several Spartans rank atop in several statistical categories in the Southern Conference. The conference player of the month in February, Sholtes has been one of the top hitters, leading the league in slugging percentage (.720), on base percentage (.500) and total bases (36), second in runs scored (16) and home runs (four), third in batting average (.360), doubles (six) and walks (10), tied for third in hits (18) and hit by pitches (four).
Gabi Cubbage (Felton, Del./Lake Forest) also ranks among the top batters, placing tied for third in hits (18), tied for fourth in home runs (three), sixth in slugging percentage (.519) and total bases (28), tied for seventh in runs scored (11) and tied for eighth in batting average (.333).
Bazonski and Bryden have led the way in the circle, where the Spartans rank 62nd in the nation and third in the SoCon in ERA (2.39). Bazonski ranks in the conference third in ERA (1.74), wins (six) and innings pitched (56.1), fourth in strikeouts (37), tied for fourth in strikeouts looking (11) and 10th in opposing batting average (.258). Bryden ranks in the nation 25th in hits allowed per seven innings (3.57) and 26th in strikeouts per seven innings (9.3) and places in the league first in games finished (six), second in opposing batting average (.145) and strikeouts (47), fourth in wins (five), fifth in ERA (1.98) and tied for sixth in batters struck out looking (10).
Elon enters the weekend with a 12-6 record and beat Campbell 7-3 on Wednesday. Last week the Phoenix played in the Carolina Classic and split four games. Elon dropped a pair of games to Kansas, 2-1 in eight innings and 6-1, and beat Harvard 5-1 and the host school UNC 7-3.
Senior midfielder Hannah Olson leads the team with her .397 average. Senior outfielder Kara Shutt is second behind Olson with her .391 average and carries a 16-game hitting streak into the weekend. Olson and junior infielder Erica Serafini are tied for the Phoenix team-lead in RBI with 13. Serafini is third on the squad with her .315 average and has a team-high three triples.
The Phoenix pitching staff has a 2.44 team ERA in 127.1 innings of action this season. Senior left-hander Kiandra Mitchum and redshirt-sophomore right-hander Abby Barker are the two hurlers who have tossed more than 40 innings this season. Mitchum leads the way with 46.2 innings and has a 2.40 ERA with a 4-2 record. Barker leads the team with her five wins (5-2) and has a 2.60 ERA in 43.0 innings.
The Spartans own a slight advantage over the Phoenix in the all-time series at 39-37-2. Elon won three of four meetings last season. In a three-game series at UNCG on March 17-18, Elon won 11-1 and 8-2 while UNCG had a 4-3 victory. The Phoenix then won at home 7-2 on April 19.
-- UNCG –