GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG jumped out to a 4-0 first inning lead on a pair of two-run home runs Wednesday night against in-state foe North Carolina and held on for a 6-3 win at the UNCG Softball Stadium. The victory is the first win over the Tar Heels for the Blue and Gold since 2011 and snaps Carolina’s 11-game winning streak.
“The first inning really set the tone,” said head coach Janelle Breneman. “We’ve really been talking a lot about competing every pitch. Early in the season we felt like our intensity was down but I’m telling you these girls were ready to come out and fight tonight. I’m so proud of how we were ready. We saw good pitches and we attacked them.”
Emily Acquaviva came up big at the plate, going a perfect four-for-four with a run scored and an RBI. The performance raises the sophomore’s batting average to a team-best .367, with team-highs in both hits (18) and runs scored (12).
“I think the faster pitching helped,” said Acquaviva. “We’ve been facing drop balls the one day that we had practice this week. Seeing (Brittany) Pickett come in definitely helped because that’s what we’ve been practicing.”
The center fielder’s night did not go unnoticed by her head coach.
“Emily was the player of the game,” stated Breneman. “She came up big for us in a few situations. She was seeing pitches and she had such confidence in the box. I think her fight really helped set the tone for us. I think her competing in the box all night was the approach for our whole team.”
Alicia Bazonski earned the win, making the start and going five full innings allowing a single run on three hits. Kylie Bouplon earned her first career save, coming on in relief to toss 1.2 innings, surrendering a pair of hits and holding the Tar Heels off the board.
The Spartans couldn’t have asked for a better start to the game, jumping all over Tar Heel pitcher Kendra Lynch. Gabrielle Cubbage reached on a fielder’s choice and Jordan Gontram smoked a home run over the left field wall. Acquaviva followed by reaching on an infield single to shortstop and was brought home a few pitches later when Jasmine Palmer clobbered a dinger past the fence in left-center.
The Tar Heels got on the board in the fourth as Katie Bailiff singled in a run up the middle. The Spartans, though, responded immediately in the bottom half with an Overdiep single and a Rachael McClaskey double off the fence in left-center.
After a Lynch homer brought Carolina within two, Acquaviva delivered with some insurance. The Stony Brook transfer laced a single up the middle, bringing McClaskey home from second.
Facing a three-run deficit, UNC loaded the bases in the second. Bouplon, however, didn’t wilt under the pressure, inducing a Lynch fielder’s choice to close out the victory.
The Spartans return to the UNCG Softball Stadium this weekend, playing host to Campbell, Delaware and Winthrop for the Spartan Classic Friday through Sunday, March 10-12.