UNCG Softball finished the 2018 campaign with a 46-13 overall record, and 13-3 record in SoCon play. The Spartans, reigning 2017 SoCon Regular Season Champions, repeated that title on their way to capturing the SoCon Tournament crown for the first time in program history.
UNCG hosted the tournament, and it proved to be beneficial. Despite multiple weather delays, nothing was able to stop the Spartans from notching that championship trophy. The Spartans forced a clean sweep of three games to win the SoCon tournament, defeating #4 Chattanooga, 4-1, and the reigning SoCon Tournament Champions #6 ETSU twice, 6-3 and 5-2. All-SoCon pitcher Alicia Bazonski won all three games for the Spartans.
Bazonski was just one of seven Spartan players chosen for all-conference. Pitcher Stephanie Bryden, third baseman Gabi Cubbage, first baseman Marisa Sholtes, second baseman Jasmine Palmer, pitcher Hannah Stiltner and outfielder Makenna Matthijs were all named to all-SoCon teams. Head Coach Janelle Breneman was named SoCon Coach of the Year.
The Spartans had several notable wins this past season, especially against ACC opponents. They defeated UNC (4-3), NC State (5-4 and a 24-2 stomping), and Virginia three times (3-2, 8-0, and 5-0). In their 22-0 win over Furman, the Spartans scored 10 runs in just the opening frame.
UNCG softball had seven seniors on their roster who were vital to the team’s success in their four years: Catcher Becca Kale, outfielder Alexis Overdiep, Gabi Cubbage, pitcher Mackenzie Winslow, Alicia Bazonski, outfielder Kendal McKinney and shortstop Rachel McClaskey. They now graduate as champions.
Bazonski pitched a stellar senior season. She was the SoCon Most Outstanding Player for the SoCon Tournament, a NFCA All-Mideast region second-team selection, a SoCon first-team selection and a Google Cloud Academic All-District selection. She finished her career with 121 starts, the most in program history, and recorded 115 strikeouts and a 20-7 record on the season.
Cubbage was a SoCon first team selection and a NFCA All-Mideast region third team selection, while Rachel McClaskey earned an All-Tournament team selection. Alexis Overdiep played outfield for the Spartans and led the team in triples (2) and stolen bases (7).
Despite missing the entire season, Mackenzie Winslow still represented the Spartans by earning the Pinnacle Award—given to the player with the highest GPA on SoCon Tournament-winning team—and was invited to attend the NCAA Career in Sports Forum.
Makenna Matthijs had an exceptional freshman season and was awarded SoCon Player of the Week twice (Feb. 19, 2018, and March 19, 2018) in addition to her SoCon All-Freshman and second team All-SoCon selection. Hannah Stiltner also joined Matthijs on the SoCon All-Freshman team.
On the offensive side, Marisa Sholtes was slugging queen for the Spartans. She led the team in batting average (.362), hits (63), doubles (16), home runs (16), and RBIs (54). Sholtes was an All-Tournament team selection, NFCA All-Mideast region second-team selection, SoCon Player of the Week (April 30, 2018) and SoCon Player of the Month (March 2018).
Stephanie Bryden recorded 160 strikeouts and went 16-1 in 2018. In addition to earning second-team All-SoCon, she was the SoCon Pitcher of the Month in March.
Alongside Bazonski, Jasmine Palmer and Jordan Gontram were selections to the Google Cloud Academic All-District team. Gontram was also named a SoCon Player of the Week (May 7, 2018).
The Spartans were blessed to have a roster loaded with talent. That’s kudos to Head Coach Janelle Breneman, who, in addition to winning SoCon Coach of the Year, was selected as the Hero Sports Division I Softball Coach of the Year. With Breneman at the helm, UNCG Softball is in good hands.
Despite losing both games in the NCAA Regionals to #9 South Carolina, 3-0, and Hofstra, 6-0, this will not be the last time that the world sees UNCG in the NCAA Tournament. Retaining much of their core, expect UNCG Softball to continue their streak as SoCon Regular Season Champions and repeat as SoCon Tournament Champions.