Well, chances are that your last month, no matter how prosperous it has been, has not come close to the last month of UNCG’s softball team. The women have only suffered one loss in the past month, and currently, own a 32-8 record on the season. It is because of this mark that the team finds themselves ranked number 40 in the nation in DI Softball RPI (Rating Percentage Index).
Junior pitcher and designated hitter Stephanie Bryden has been a big part of the team’s success. After winning the SoCon Freshman of the Year in 2016, an injury limited her sophomore campaign. Bryden has more than returned to her status as one of the top athletes on campus.
On the mound, Bryden leads the conference in ERA (1.34), opposing batting average (.141), has allowed only two home runs and has the most games finished (10) and relief outings (12). At the plate, Bryden holds a .345 batting average, second-best on the team, in her 58 at-bats. Because of this and more, Bryden was named the SoCon Pitcher of the Month for March, joining teammate Marisa Sholtes, who was named Player of the Month in February.
Bryden talked about her reaction and feelings upon being named Pitcher of the Month.
“It was pretty rewarding. I’ve been working hard ever since last year, coming back from injury, so it’s kinda nice to see hard work pay off and to know my teammates are behind me backing me up every step of the way.”
Bryden also described herself while recovering and rehabbing from last season, describing how she feels at this point in the year.
“I think I’m definitely at 100 percent, maybe even more, with how much work I have done with rehab and getting stronger and working to get back where I was while also being better to where I was,” she said. “So I think definitely I’m back to where I was at least, if not stronger than where I was before.”
Though Bryden and the softball team have been the head of the SoCon at this point in the season, it has not been without its dark days. Literally darkened, damp days, as the weather has led to games being postponed, rescheduled and simply canceled throughout the season. Bryden talked about the adjustment that the team has had to do because of the poor weather.
“We’ve kinda had a whole year of adjusting to the weather, even with practices and games. So we don’t really put too much attention to it, we just keep doing our thing and play UNCG softball and focusing on what has to get down.”
In spite of the weather and in spite of their competition, the Spartans seem to just keep on ramping through the season like the Greek soldiers of antiquity. In almost every offensive, defensive and pitching statistical category, UNCG is ranked right at the top of the conference. With all this success on the field, Bryden talked about competing with the opposition, as well as the team’s self-motivation.
“I think there are some good challenges out there with the other teams, but as long as we stick with our plan and our routine and stay focused on what we need to do as a team, then nothing should stand in our way.”
After a 2017 season that saw the team take the Southern Conference regular-season title before falling in the tournament, the team is on pace to retake the regular season again before hosting the SoCon tournament on May 9. Despite the upsetting defeat in last season’s playoffs and the obvious motivation that defeat brings into this season, Bryden already feels like the season has been successful.
“As tough as it would be to not have a Southern Conference title after the season we had, I do think it would be successful just because the win record we put up has been, I think, the best in program history,” Bryden said. “Everyone has done significantly better and everyone is getting stronger and the team dynamics are really, really good. So I think it would be a success, but obviously, we’re hoping to come away with the SoCon title.”