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GREENSBORO, N.C. – Winning its third-straight Southern Conference Regular Season Championship, No. 1 seed UNC Greensboro opens the conference tournament against the winner of No. 4 Mercer-No. 5 ETSU Thursday at approximately 12:30 p.m. The Bears and Bucs face each other Wednesday at 10 a.m. The Spartans earned a first-round bye as the league champs.

Each game of the tournament will be streamed on the SoCon Digital Network and have live stats.

Defending Champions

The Spartans won their first-ever SoCon Tournament Championship in program history last year. Playing at home as the No. 1 seed, UNCG defeated No. 4 Chattanooga 4-1, No. 6 ETSU 6-3 and the Bucs again in the championship again 5-2.

The win in the SoCon Championship game was the first in four tries for UNCG, including three times on its home field (2014 and 2013). The Spartans became the first team to claim both the regular season and tournament championship since Samford accomplished the feat in 2016.

Five Facts to Know

- UNCG finished with a perfect 9-0 record in road SoCon games, sweeping Chattanooga, Furman and Mercer to become the second team in program history to be undefeated in road league play (8-0 in the Big South in 1995). The Spartans finished the regular season with a better road record than at home (12-5 to 13-11).

- Marisa Sholtes ranks tied for third in career home runs (40) in program history with Katelyn Bedwell (2011-14) after hitting a solo homer last Saturday. She ranks second in career slugging percentage (.667) and sixth in career RBIs with 127. She is also tied for the sixth-most homers (13) by a Spartan in a single-season with Penny Thompson (2002), Lindsay Thomas (2014), Nicole Thomas (2014) and teammate Jordan Gontram (2018).

- Sholtes ranks in the SoCon tied for second in doubles (10), second in slugging percentage (.696) and homers, third in total bases (94) and fourth in RBI’s (37). In the nation she is 29th in homers per game (0.32).

- UNCG has been one of the best power-hitting teams in the league, leading it in homers (53), slugging percentage (.438), doubles (69), RBI’s (207) and total bases (588) in addition to walks (170). In the nation the Spartans are 43rd in home runs per game (1.04), 83rd in slugging percentage and 92nd in doubles per game (1.35).

- Stephanie Bryden ranks third all-time in career strikeouts in school history at 527. She also ranks fifth in career wins with 51 and needs one more to tie Christine Hornak (1997-98).

- Bryden has already recorded the third-most strikeouts in a single season with 220, passing Amber Harrell (2010) at 214 over the weekend, and has a chance to break the record of 262 by Christine Hornak (1997). She is also sixth for the most wins (22) in a year.

The Spartans This Season

UNCG concluded the regular season with a 30-21 overall record. Last weekend the Spartans won two of three games against ETSU at home. On Senior Day, UNCG came from behind for a 3-2 walk-off victory with Katie Stettler delivering the game-winning RBI-single with two outs in the seventh inning. The Spartans won five of their last six SoCon games to slide up to first place and claim the regular season championship.

Kylie Bouplon and Bryden have been UNCG’s main two pitchers as both have made at least 19 starts and 25 appearances and have combined to place the Spartans 23rd in the country in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.39). In the SoCon, Bouplon ranks fourth in strikeouts (83), fifth in ERA (3.25) and seventh in lowest opposing batting average (.277). Bryden leads the league in wins, strikeouts, opposing batting average (.214) and is second in strikeouts looking (43) and third in ERA (2.58). In the nation, Bryden ranks 20th in strikeouts, 21st in wins, 24th in strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.37), 43rd in strikeouts per seven innings (8.1) and 71st in walks allowed per seven innings (1.51).

Freshmen Delaney Cumbie and Gabi Howard have made big impacts for the Spartans. Cumbie leads the SoCon in on-base percentage (.484) and is second in walks (31), tied for second in doubles (10), sixth in fielding percentage (.988) and slugging percentage (.577), tied for seventh in batting average (.333) and tied for ninth in runs (30). Howard leads the league in walks (36) and is fourth in on-base percentage (.450), tied for sixth in homers (eight) and ninth in slugging percentage (.514).

-- UNCG –