CULLOWHEE, N.C. – After taking the lead in both games of its doubleheader at Western Carolina, the Elon softball team was not able to pull out the win in either game at the Catamount Softball Complex today, April 21. The Phoenix (20-16, 8-9) fell to the Catamounts (18-29, 5-7) 4-3 in nine innings in game one and 7-4 in the second game.
Carleigh Nester put the Phoenix in scoring position immediately after getting hit by a pitch to start the game. After Nester stole second, a ground out by Lauren Oldham advanced her to third. With one out, Tomeka Watson then singled through the left side to score Nester and put Elon up 1-0.
The Catamounts answered in the bottom of the frame with one run to tie the game. A two-out double to right center by Kelly Braman scored Jordan Fulton from second for WCU’s first run of the game. Fulton had singled up the middle earlier in the inning and stole second before the hit by Braman.
After five scoreless innings, Elon broke the tie with one run in the top of the sixth. Watson led the inning off with a single to right field and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Grace Eng. A wild pitch by WCU’s Katie King allowed Watson to move over to third. Erin O’Shea then reached on a bunt that pushed Watson across the plate for the one-run advantage, 2-1.
E. O’Shea retired the batters in order in the bottom of the sixth to put the Phoenix back on offense. Nester led the seventh off with a double to left center and advanced to third on a single up the middle by Oldham. After Oldham stole second, a one-out sacrifice fly by Sarah Little scored Nester to give the maroon and gold a two-run cushion, 3-1, heading into the bottom of the seventh.
The Catamounts were able to rally and send the game into extra innings with two runs to tie the game at three-all. With two outs, Fulton hit a single up the middle to give the Catamounts life before Erin Foster hit a two-run homer to centerfield.
The Phoenix had an opportunity to score in the top of the ninth with two outs and runners on the corners. However, Elon couldn’t push a run across the plate and the game headed into the bottom of the ninth where WCU’s Heather Chastain drew leadoff walk to put the winning run on base. After Bekah Burkettt, a pinch runner for Chastain, advanced to third off a double by Amelia Griffin, Fulton was intentionally walked to load the bases with one out. Elon then made a pitching change, putting Kari Pervell in the circle for E. O’Shea. Foster then hit a walk-off single up the middle to score Burkett and give the Catamounts the 4-3 nine-inning victory.
Steinhardt earned the win (7-6) after replacing King in the middle of the eighth and pitching 1.1 innings in the circle, giving up two hits in the six batters she faced. The loss went to E. O’Shea (13-8) who allowed four runs off eight hits and struck out six.
Watson recorded three hits in her five at-bats, scoring one run and one RBI. Oldham, E. O’Shea and Spencer all tallied two hits, while Nester scored two runs.
Elon once again put the first run of game on the board. With two outs, Watson singled to second to reach base and then stole second. Eng scored Watson to make it a 1-0 game with a single to right center.
The Phoenix added another run in the top of the second off a Catamounts’ error. Johanna Spencer led the inning off with a double to right center and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Danielle Lafferty. Ali Ford then reached on an error by WCU second baseman MaKenzi McAteer that scored Spencer and put the maroon and gold up 2-0.
After Western scored one run in the bottom of the second and two in the bottom of the third to lead 3-2, Elon regained the lead in the top of the fourth. E. O’Shea started the inning with a single to third and made it to third on a double to left by Spencer. With two outs, both E. O’Shea and Spencer scored on a passed ball that put the Phoenix up 4-2.
Chelsea White replaced Pervell in the circle for the Phoenix in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Catamounts regained the lead after Foster hit a two-run home run, her second of the day and 17th of the season, to left field to put WCU up 5-4.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth, another two-run homer, this one by Braman, put the Catamounts up by three. Karen Berna then replaced White in the circle and recorded the final two outs to end the frame.
The Phoenix was not able to pull out the win in the top of the seventh as Western earned the win by a final of 7-4.
Jordan Garrett (7-15) picked up the win after 6.1 innings of work, allowing four runs off five hits and striking out eight. White (0-1) took the loss, giving up four runs in 2.1 innings.
Watson and Spencer both went 2-for-3 at the plate with Spencer scoring two runs.
Elon will look to keep Western from the series sweep tomorrow, April 22, at 1 p.m.