The UNCG softball team completed a three-game sweep of the Elon Phoenixes over the weekend at both UNCG Softball Stadium and Hunt Softball Stadium. The sweep now brings the 2018 SoCon champion’s record to 16-10, while Elon falls to 15-10-1.
The series was originally slated to begin on Friday afternoon but had to be pushed back due to rain to Saturday, forcing a doubleheader. The Spartans ground out a tough 2-0 victory in the first game of the day. All-SoCon selection Stephanie Bryden got the start for UNCG, giving up just one hit and striking out 11 in a complete game shutout. With the win, Bryden moved to 10-5 on the season.
The Spartans survived off the bats of Makenna Matthjis and Marisa Sholtes, who both belted solo home runs to deep center field in the first inning. It was the only scoring in an otherwise textbook pitcher’s duel: the two teams combined for 14 strikeouts and just seven hits. After giving up a walk, Bryden struck out two straight in the top of the seventh to seal the victory for UNCG.
After a short intermission to tend to the diamond and adjust strategy, the two teams retook the field. Kylie Bouplon started for UNCG. Bouplon allowed just two hits and zero runs in five innings pitched—one of the junior’s best performances of the season, something this UNCG pitching staff sorely needs. As is, Bryden carries most of the Spartan pitching load. That will need to change heading into SoCon play.
The Spartans fared equally as well on the offensive side, scoring seven runs in the first two innings off home runs from Sholtes, Kamryn Graves and Gabi Howard. Another Sholtes homer in the fourth lifted the lead to 8-0, and the Phoenix decided to wave the white flag. UNCG wins, 8-0.
For Sunday, the Spartans made the trip to Alamance County to play Elon at their place, Hunt Softball Stadium. Bryden again got the start and delivered, this time allowing only one run and three hits while striking out eight in seven innings pitched. Despite a gritty Elon comeback effort, the Spartans ultimately escaped with a 4-1 victory.
Kayleigh Willis got UNCG on the board first with a bases-loaded, two-run single in the first inning. Two batters later, Bryden sent a pop fly to the outfield, just far enough for Howard to tag and dash home for the run. Bryden was credited for the RBI.
In the fourth, Melanie Darges added to the Spartan lead with an RBI single up the middle of the infield. The Spartans coasted after that until two walks and an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh gave Elon some life. Bryden, however, would be having none of it, forcing a fly out on the ensuing batter than ended the game with a UNCG win. It was Bryden’s 11th win of the season, which leads the SoCon.
This weekend, UNCG will host Samford in the opening action of conference play. First pitch is scheduled for Saturday at 1:00 p.m., weather pending.