Last weekend, The Spartan Softball team hosted a three game series against the Eastern Tennessee State Buccaneers. The teams played a pair of matches Saturday and would finish the series Sunday afternoon here at the Spartan’s Stadium. The team fared well Saturday, winning back to back games by a score of 11-7 and then 10-1, but later would lose the series sweep on Sunday, falling behind and finishing the game 4-1. The Spartans leave the series with a record of 29-20 on the season and an even 6-6 in the Southern Conference.
The first game Saturday was all offense for the Spartans, who scored two or more runs in three different innings. They were led by hits from Stephanie Bryden, Tory Wright, and Allison Geiner in the first inning, tallying three runs for the Spartans early in the game. The team would add two more to the board their next at bat when UNCG senior Nicole Thomas blasted a deep home-run over the left centerfield fence for a two run shot. The team would add another run in the third to make the score 6-0.
After scoring an unearned run in the fourth, ETSU responded with a solo home-run from Kelsey Smith. This put the Buccaneers just four runs away from tying the Spartans going into the sixth inning. The Spartans would solidify their lead their next at bat, scoring five runs in the top of the sixth to put them nine runs away from the Bucs. The Bucs responded with a five run inning of their own, but ultimately fell short in the seventh, ending the game with an 11-7 Spartans win.
The second game held more of the same for the Spartans, as they got a lead early and relied heavily on their bats. The team scored two runs in the first inning by way of a Danielle Vega homerun. The shot knocked in Lindsay Thomas who had got on base earlier with a stand up double. While the Bucs responded next inning with a homerun of their own by Kelsey Smith, this would be the last time a Buccaneer would cross the plate in this game. UNCG went on to score six runs in the fourth inning, capitalizing on back to back homeruns from Rachael McClaskey and Nicole Thomas which would score four of those six runs on the inning.
UNCG pitcher Stephanie Bryden finished the game throwing five innings, allowing only one run and two hits. She ended the game with a strikeout in the fifth, defeating the Buccaneers by way of a 5th inning mercy rule. Notable Spartan performances came from third baseman Danielle Vega who finished with two hits, two RBIs, and one run and Center Lindsay Thomas, who finished the game batting 4-4 with two runs and two RBIs.
The final match on Sunday would not hold the same fate for UNCG, as the Spartans were unable to be successful offensively. The team struggled at the plate, being held to just three hits on the day with all three hits coming from senior Danielle Vega. Danielle singled, doubled, and also hit a home run in the game which would be the only run scored for the Spartans. UNCG pitcher Stephanie Bryden was credited with the loss, allowing four earned runs on five hits. She pitched three and a third innings and exited the game with just three strikeouts. This loss to the Buccaneers was the first time UNCG has fallen to ETSU since the 2006 season and the first time in head coach Janelle Breneman’s tenure.
After going 2-1 in conference play, the Spartans will look to build on this momentum and increase their regular season record during a non-conference matchup in Charlotte against the 49ers. The Spartans will take home field again Saturday, April 30th at 1pm to start a slate of very important games against Chattanooga, who is currently tied with UNCG and ETSU in the SoCon standings.