ETSU softball splits with UNCG; SoCon title on the line Sunday

GREENSBORO, NC- Despite splitting a doubleheader at UNCG on Saturday, the ETSU softball team kept its Southern Conference regular season title hopes alive.

After dropping a tense heartbreaker in the opener, 4-2, the Buccaneers broke out the bats in game two en route to evening the series with a 9-7 victory in the nightcap from UNCG Softball Stadium.

With the split, both teams – who are in the running for earning the regular season championship with Furman – needed help from Western Carolina. The two teams needed the Catamounts to win one game in their series with Samford and Western Carolina did so as they won game one, 5-1. Should ETSU beat the Spartans on Sunday, it would not only mark its first ever conference championship, but it would also give the Blue and Gold the No. 1 seed in next week’s SoCon Tournament.

On the day, the Buccaneer offense hit .377 (23-for-61) with sophomore outfielder Tiffany Laughren (Erwin, Tenn.) reaching base in all nine of her plate appearances. Laughren went 5-for-5 with one double, home run, three RBI and four walks, while junior infielder Kelsey Smith (Tucson, Ariz.) went 6-for-9 with two runs and junior infielder Kelsey Chernak (Ooltewah, Tenn.) went 4-for-7 with an RBI. Freshman infielder Nikki Grupp (Jacksonville, Fla.) reached base seven times on Saturday as she finished 2-for-4 with two runs, an RBI and five walks and fellow freshman Kylie Toler (Bradenton, Fla.) had three hits and drove in three runs. Following the offensive output, the Blue and Gold now only need two doubles to break the single-season program record, while ETSU – who walked 15 times on Saturday – extended its single-season record to 165 on the season.

In the circle, Sharlene Godoy (La Puente, Calif.) pitched a scoreless seventh inning to notch her third save en route to marking ETSU’s 12th of the year, which sets a new single-season record. The previous record was 11, set last season.

ETSU now sits 25-23 on the season and 10-6 in conference play, while Saturday’s win was the Bucs’ first victory against the Spartans in Greensboro in over 15 years (March 16, 2002). Meanwhile, UNCG moved to 27-22, 10-6 with the split.

Sunday’s series and regular season finale is set for 1 p.m. at the UNCG Softball Stadium.

Courtesy: East Tennessee State Athletics

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