After the soggy winter we’ve had, Greensboro was due for some warmth and sunshine. It finally came over the weekend, setting a pleasant scene for UNCG Softball’s three-game series against Samford. The Spartans won the first game before falling to the Bulldogs in the final two.
Saturday featured an afternoon-long doubleheader. In the first half, which served as the SoCon opener for both teams, UNCG cruised to a 9-0 win in just five innings. Senior pitcher Stephanie Bryden led the way for the Spartans with a dominant day on the mound, tossing a one-hit shutout for her 12th win of the season.
Bryden’s near-flawless outing all but sealed the win for UNCG, but the Spartan offense took no chances. Senior first baseman Maris Sholtes continued to display her power as she sparked the offensive onslaught with a three-run homer to centerfield, giving UNCG an early 3-0 lead. Sholtes is currently third in the SoCon with seven home runs this season.
Bryden’s and Sholtes’ play cleared the path for a six-run third inning that brought the game out of reach for Samford. Bryden broke it open with a two-RBI single down the left field line to give the Spartans a 5-0 lead. It snowballed from there, with UNCG adding four more runs before Kayleigh Willis mercifully lined out for the final out of the inning. Bryden would then return to the mound and retire nine consecutive batters leading to the UNCG victory.
It was a dominant all-around effort and team performance for UNCG, with the Blue and Gold posting an absurd .500 batting average on 22 at bats. Although Bryden was dominant on the mound, her defense had her back: The Spartans committed zero errors all game.
It was a different story in the second half of Saturday’s action. Two UNCG throwing errors in the second inning resulted in a Samford run and pushed it to 3-0 with a two-run home run in the third.
The Spartans responded in the third, courtesy of a solo Makenna Matthjis homer and a Gabi Howard sacrifice fly. The comeback effort ended there, as Samford cranked out a two-run home run the next inning. UNCG never recovered. 5-2, Samford.
Moving onto Sunday’s tiebreaking contest, the Spartans came up short once again as the Bulldogs pulled out a 7-4 victory. The All-SoCon Bryden, who got the start, pitched one of her worst games of the season, allowing seven earned runs in all seven innings. It was her tenth complete game of the season. She pitched only five last season.
Sholtes’ bat was hot early once again, creaming a deep solo home run to centerfield in the first inning, and Howard adding a two-run homer in the fourth. But Samford had Bryden figured out. They scored four straight runs for the win.
Following the conclusion of the tripleheader, the Spartans now sit at 17-12 on the season and 1-2 in conference play. As for Samford, they are 13-22 overall and improved to 2-1 in the SoCon. Despite losing the series, UNCG is still well above .500 and played well in the series opener.
The Spartans will be back in action next weekend as they travel to Tennessee for a weekend series with Chattanooga.