UNCG softball punch ticket to 2023 NCAA TournamentCourtesy UNCG Athletics / May 19, 2023
CHATTANOOGA, TENN. – The top-seeded UNC Greensboro (UNCG) softball team punched its seventh ticket in program history to the 2023 NCAA Tournament behind the game of the year. It was perhaps the tournament of the year, as the Spartans won each of their three games this week by one run each.
The Spartans came from behind and sealed the victory with back-to-back home runs to defeat the second-seeded Samford Bulldogs in the Southern Conference (SoCon) Championship game Saturday afternoon at Frost Stadium, 7-6.
This is UNCG’s third SoCon Tournament title and third in six years. The Spartans last won in 2021 and prior to that 2018. This is also the Spartans seventh title in program history, including four Big South trophies (1994, 1995, 1996, and 1997).
Sophomore Maddie Spell was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, while fifth year Delaney Cumbie and sophomore Jessie Shipley were voted to the All-Tournament Team. Senior Ashley Gontram earned the Pinnacle Award, given to the student-athlete with the highest grade-point average.
Down one, 6-5, heading into the bottom of the seventh with one out, Shipley took a full count and crushed the ball to center field to tie the game at six. Senior Maycin Brown followed with her own 3-2 count and slammed the next pitch over the right field fence for the game-winning home run.
UNCG is now 37-20 overall, while Samford fell to 26-31.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Samford put up three runs in the top of the first on three hits and one error.
The Bulldogs added a run in the top of the third as Grier Bruce homered to left field for a 4-0 advantage.
The Spartans cut the deficit to two in the bottom of the frame, 4-2, on two hits. Brooklynn Maxwell and Cumbie both walked to lead off the inning. With one out, Grace Loftin chopped a ball up the middle bringing home Maxwell and Cumbie. Brown singled to right field before the Bulldogs retired the side.
Samford got runners on first and second with two outs and McKayla Cothran hit an RBI single to give the Bulldogs a three-run lead, 5-2. UNCG’s Maddie Spell then led off the bottom half of the inning with a lead-off home run to left field, cutting the deficit to two, 5-3.
In the top of the fifth, Samford walked with the bases loaded for a 6-3 advantage. UNCG’s bats continued responding, as Samantha Lagrama hammered a 1-1 count over the right field fence with Brown on second following her double. Lagrama’s fifth homer of the season cut the deficit once again to one, 6-5.
Following a scoreless sixth inning, the Spartans’ defense remained strong in the top of the seventh, stranding two Bulldogs on base with a fly out to center field and a pop up to shortstop.
UNCG’s bats connected as Shipley and Brown hit solo home runs in the bottom of the seventh to claim the title, 7-6.