ELON, N.C. – The Elon University softball team begins its 2012 season on Friday, Feb. 10, in the opening game of the Elon Invitational. The Phoenix will face the Liberty Flames at 3:30 p.m., while match-ups against the Georgetown Hoyas and N.C. Central Eagles are scheduled for Saturday. The tournament runs through Sunday, Feb. 12, at East Field.
A Look at the Phoenix
Elon returns 11 players from its 2011 team that finished the season 30-24 (12-12 SoCon). All-conference players Carleigh Nester, Kaitlyn Piazzolla and Tomeka Watson are back for the maroon and gold, as well as Danielle Lafferty and Erin O’Shea, who both earned weekly conference honors last year.
The Phoenix and the Hoyas will be meeting for the first time this weekend, while Friday will mark the 16th game against the Flames. Elon and Liberty last met on April 30, 2003, when the two teams split a doubleheader. The maroon and gold played N.C. Central for the first time in 2011 with Elon taking both wins in the doubleheader by scores of 8-0 and 20-0.
Since the 1990 season, Elon has a 12-9 record in season openers. Last year, Elon defeated Youngstown State, 4-3, in its first game of the season and went on to earn the Phoenix Leadoff Classic title.
About Coach Bocock
This season marks interim head coach Kathy Bocock’s first season at the helm of the Phoenix program. Prior to 2012, Bocock served as a volunteer and assistant coach for Elon for three seasons. Bocock has over 15 years of head coaching experience after leading the Averett Cougars program from 1993-2007.
Elon has 10 newcomers on this year’s team, including freshmen McKenzie Carter, Aly Quintana, Charyssa Parent, Grace Eng, Chelsea White, Cyra Cottrell, Caitlin O’Shea and Sarah Little, sophomore Karen Berna and junior Ali Ford. The Phoenix also welcomes first-year assistant coach Mike Steuerwald and the return of associate head coach Jess Kohut, who was an assistant coach for the maroon and gold during the 2009-10 season.
The Southern Conference released its 2012 preseason coaches poll on Friday, Feb. 3. Watson was named to the Preseason All-Southern Conference First Team, while Nester, E. O’Shea and Piazzolla were named to the second team. Elon received 32 points and was picked to finish sixth in the league.
The 2012 Elon softball viewbook is now available here. This book brings and interactive experience to the fans and incorporates full-color graphics, as well as video content.
Twice As Nice
Nester led the Southern Conference and ranked 12th in the country in doubles last season with 16. The sophomore finished 2011 third all-time on Elon’s single season record list for doubles. Nester also led the team with a .377 batting average and 36 runs, while finishing as the 35th hardest player to strikeout in the NCAA. The outfielder only struck out eight times in 159 at bats.
Watson has stolen 24 bases in each of her two seasons as a Phoenix. The junior ranked second in the conference and currently sits tied for fifth on Elon’s career record’s list with 48.
Over The Fence
Piazzolla has hit 20 career home runs in her three seasons as a Phoenix, which ranks fourth all-time in Elon softball history. The senior catcher needs six home runs to tie the program’s all-time record.
After the Elon Invitational, the Phoenix will welcome the Bucknell Bison, James Madison Dukes and the Presbyterian Blue Hose to East Field for the Phoenix Softball Clash. The tournament starts on Friday, Feb. 17, at 2 p.m. with a match-up between the Phoenix and Blue Hose and wraps up on Sunday, Feb. 19, at 2:30 p.m. with the Elon/James Madison game.