This past weekend, our UNCG Spartan Softball team took the field for the first time at home while hosting the UNCG Invitational Tournament. The team faced opponents Youngstown State Penguins, Iona Gaels, and the Lehigh Mountain Hawks in a series of games that lasted Friday through Sunday.
The Spartans first game was Friday night against Iona University from New York which ended in a 6-3 win. This win ended the Spartans four game losing streak and sent the team to an even (5-5) record. The blue and gold benefited strongly from a stout defensive performance, committing no errors in the entire game. In addition to this strong performance from the entire team, Freshman Pitcher Stephanie Bryden shined bright and threw an incredible game. Pitching a complete game on a cold and windy Friday night, Stephanie finished with five strikeouts and no batters walked.
After the game, I had a chance to speak with the Spartans Head Coach, Janelle Breneman. When asked about her team’s performance Friday night, she emphasized the importance of the team making big plays when they needed to and the team’s ability to get ahead on the mound. She also highlighted the play of Sophomore Rebecca Kale. Rebecca started at catcher Friday evening, replacing Senior Lindsay Thomas who is out with an injury, and managed an RBI in the sixth inning to extend the Spartans lead to 6-2.
On Saturday, the Spartans hosted a double header and played Iona and Lehigh University in back to back games. The Spartans finished the day scorching their opponents, as they beat Iona 10-1 and later bested Lehigh University 8-0.
It was all offense for the Spartans in their match against Iona. Spartan Sophomore Rachael McClaskey ended the game responsible for six runs, batting in two RBI’s and scoring four runs on her feet. Spartan First Baseman Tory Wright also had a notable performance behind the plate. She scored three runs in the game herself in addition to the four runs she batted in, one of which coming on her early first inning home run. Iona’s only run came in the first inning by left fielder Marisa Gergel.
The Spartans ended Lehigh University’s undefeated season in the second game of their doubleheader Saturday night in a dominating performance. The Spartan’s completely shut out the Mountain Hawks, allowing a dismal three hits the entire game. This win left the Spartans undefeated in the tournament heading into their last double header.
The Spartans looked to extend this win streak heading into their last two games of the tournament Sunday against Lehigh and Youngstown State. Unfortunately, they were unable to pull off the tournament sweep as they lost both games Sunday afternoon. The Spartans offense struggled against Lehigh as they totaled just three hits in their 4-1 loss. This lack of production on offense led to a frustration that would carry into their next game against Youngstown State where the Spartans were obliterated 16-4.
Despite trying everything they could to combat Youngstown’s strong offense, they were left empty handed. The Spartans rotated pitchers five different times throughout the game but were unable to find their groove on the mound and gave up a collective 14 RBI’s to the Penguins.
Through three days and five games, the Spartans ended the weekend with a 3-2 record in the tournament and a 7-7 record overall. When asked about her team, Head Coach Janelle Breneman said “The Spartan Softball team is led by six strong seniors who lead by example through their play and are great leaders for our rookies.” She finished by highlighting the amount of heart her team has as well as their desire to do well. With the competitive edge the Spartans displayed this past weekend, it’s fair to say that the team is poised for success as long as they focus and play hard every pitch.
The UNCG Softball team will resume play Friday, March 4th, in the Spartan Classic against Rutgers University.