ELON, N.C. – The Elon softball team used 22 runs off 25 hits, including four home runs, to win both games of its doubleheader conference opener against Furman today, March 10, at East Field. The Phoenix is now 13-3 and 2-0 in the SoCon after winning the first game, 9-1, in five innings and the second, 13-8, as the Paladins fall to 7-12 (0-2 SoCon) on the season.
Elon pitcher Erin O’Shea found herself in a tough situation early with the bases loaded and only one out in the top of the first. The senior struck out Lakyn Shull and Alex Bimonte to end Furman’s at bat with no runs.
Carleigh Nester scored Elon’s first run of the day off a fielder’s choice that allowed Kaitlyn Piazzolla to reach and left Cyra Cottrell safe at second after an error by Furman’s second baseman. Nester reached earlier on a single to center, followed by a single to left by E. O’Shea, while Cottrell was awarded a base after being hit by a pitch. With two outs and the bases loaded, Danielle Lafferty took her first offering from Shull to left field for a grand slam to put the Phoenix up 5-0.
Two innings later, Lafferty hit her second homer of the day, fourth of the season, to add three more runs to the scoreboard for the maroon and gold. E. O’Shea was waiting on second after drawing a walk and Piazzolla was on first after getting hit by Shull’s pitch as Lafferty came up to the plate. With two outs once again, Lafferty took a 2-2 pitch to center field for the three-run shot to give Elon an 8-0 edge.
In the bottom of the fourth, Camille Hill singled to left with one out and then stole second to bring Tomeka Watson to the plate. Watson grounded out to the pitcher for the second out of the inning but advanced Hill to third on the play. Nester then singled to left field to bring Hill across the plate and add one more run for the Phoenix.
Furman scored its one run of the game off a one-out solo home run to left field by Emily Boyer in the top of the fifth. E. O’Shea bounced back by striking out the final two batters of the game to give Elon the 9-1 victory.
E. O’Shea (7-1) pitched the complete game in win, giving up one run off four hits and struck out nine. Shull (4-2) also pitched the entire game allowing four earned runs off seven hits.
Lafferty went an impressive 2-for-2 with both hits going over the fence to record seven RBI. Nester was 2-for-3 in the game with one run and one RBI to her name.
The Phoenix picked off where it left off in the first game, scoring three runs in the first. Hill started the bottom of the first with a leadoff single to left field. Watson then hit her second home run of the year to center for two runs. E. O’Shea, the next batter for the maroon and gold, hit Elon’s second homer of the game in as many batters to give the team a 3-0 lead after one inning.
The Paladins answered with two runs the next inning. Shull and Hannah Pace scored from third and second after a single by Nikki Legg and then an error by Elon pitcher Kari Pervell.
A single to center by Watson scored Johanna Spencer, who singled to start the inning, for another run to put the Phoenix up 4-2. After Lauren Collier replaced Hannah Bradley in the circle, Nester doubled to center to score Lauren Oldham from second. With Watson on third and Nester on second, E O’Shea singled to center to add two more scores for a 7-2 Elon edge.
E. O’Shea replaced Pervell at pitcher to start the third inning for Elon. Jessie Homesley scored off a single by Boyer after doubling to center to reach base. Furman added two more runs off a double to right field by Stephanie Spain. With two on and two outs, Legg tripled to push two runs across the plate and then scored on a throwing error by Cottrell. Caitlin O’Shea then replaced E. O’Shea at pitcher and recorded the final out of the inning as Furman took the lead, 8-7.
After a leadoff single and a steal of second base, Watson found herself at third after a single by Nester in the bottom of the fourth. Watson scored off a single by E. O’Shea, while Nester and E. O’Shea both scored a few plays later as Morgan Wright reached on a throwing error by Furman shortstop Taylor Jenkins, which put Elon back on top, 10-8.
Shelby Parker took over pitching from Collier for the Paladins in the bottom of the fifth. Hill singled to start the inning, advanced to second on a passed ball and moved to third off a sacrifice bunt by Watson. Hill then scored on a wild pitch to make it 11-8 for the maroon and gold. A single by Nester and a walk to E. O’Shea put two on for Cottrell, who doubled to center to score two runs and give the Phoenix the five-run edge, 13-8.
After pitching three scoreless innings for Elon, Karen Berna relieved C. O’Shea in the circle to preserve the win. Berna retired the batters in order, forcing three straight groundouts to end the game.
C. O’Shea (2-2) earned the win in the offensive battle after pitching 3.1 innings with no runs and only three hits in the 15 batters she faced. Collier (1-4) took the loss after going a combined 4.1 innings and allowing four runs off eight hits.
E. O’Shea went 3-for-3 at the plate with two runs and 4 RBI. Both Watson and Nester were 3-for-4 in the game and each scored three runs.
Elon will close out the three-game series against Furman at 1 p.m. tomorrow, March 11, at East Field.