ELON, N.C. – Coming off its best winning season since 2010, the Elon University softball team is set to host intrastate rival Charlotte in doubleheader to open the 2018 season on Friday, Feb. 9. The first game is slated for a 3 p.m. start at Hunt Softball Park with the second game to follow shortly afterwards.
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Follow the Phoenix
Fans can keep up with the action of the Phoenix all season via live stats from the program’s schedule page at elonphoenix.com. Updates will also be provided on Twitter on @elonscores or the program’s handle, @ElonUSoftball.
Inside the Series: Charlotte
Both programs have met 30 times as intrastate rivals on the softball diamond during Elon’s fastpitch era (since 1990). The 49ers hold an 18-12 advantage all-time over the maroon and gold, but the Phoenix took the most recent meeting in 2016 with a 6-5 walk-off victory at Hunt Softball Park.
During Elon’s fastpitch era, the maroon and gold has posted an all-time record of 29-19 in its opening day games. Under seventh-year head coach Kathy Bocock, the Phoenix has an 8-2 ledger in games on opening day including a 5-2 victory at No. 8 Georgia in 2013. The Phoenix has a current six-game win streak for home games played on opening day.
Elon Tabbed Fifth in Preseason CAA Poll
Elon was selected to finish fifth in the 2018 Colonial Athletic Association Preseason poll as chosen by the league coaches. It was the second straight season that the Phoenix was tabbed fifth in the CAA preseason poll. James Madison was picked to win the league for the third straight year after the Dukes earned six of eight first-place votes and 48 points. Hofstra received the other two first-place votes as the Pride were tabbed second behind JMU with 43 points. College of Charleston claimed third with 35 points while UNCW landed fourth at 29 points, three points ahead of the Phoenix (26). Delaware and Towson tied for the sixth position with 18 points while Drexel (seven) rounded out the preseason poll.
Around the Horn
• Elon returns 14 letterwinners and five starters from its 2017 team that went 32-21, its second 30-win campaign in the last three seasons. The Phoenix’s winning percentage of .604 was its highest since 2010.
• The maroon and gold also brings back all of its pitching from last season. As a unit, the Phoenix posted a 2.86 ERA – its best since 2010 – and struck out 233 batters, the team’s highest total since 2012.
• The Phoenix welcomes back 58.4 percent of its hitting, 63.0 percent of its scoring and nearly 52 percent of its RBI production. The maroon and gold also return the 2017 leaders in runs scored, doubles, triples and walks.
• Four players from last year’s team earned All-CAA honors including returners in senior pitcher Kiandra Mitchum and senior outfielder Kara Shutt. Mitchum became Elon’s first first team all-conference pitcher at the Division I level while Shutt garnered her second first team All-CAA recognition.
• Mitchum went 18-13 in the circle for the maroon and gold in her 43 appearances with 35 starts. The Mechanicsville, Va., native posted a 2.18 ERA and struck out 180 batters while tossing 211.2 innings. Mitchum’s strikeout total was the second-best single-season performance in school history while her ERA and wins were the best for an Elon pitcher at the Division I level.
• Shutt batted .333 overall during her junior season, but raised that average to a team-best .375 during conference play. The Greensboro, N.C., native is the Phoenix’s returning leader in hits, slugging percentage and home runs.
• Other team leaders returning for the Phoenix includes senior Hannah Olson, who scored a team-high 40 runs last year and was fourth on the squad in average at .276. Fellow senior Kristin Hoover had 11 doubles to lead the Phoenix while junior Erica Serafini is the returning run producer with her 22 RBI.
• Bocock begins her seventh season with the Phoenix with a record of 158-155-1 during her helm at Elon. She’s currently sitting on 395 career victories heading into 2018.
Scouting the 49ers
Charlotte returns 16 players from a squad that was 30-23 last season and was 11-12 overall in the East Division as a member of Conference USA. This season, the 49ers were chosen to finish fourth overall in the league’s preseason poll as head coach Aimee DeVos enters her 24th season at the helm of the program.
Among the top returners for Charlotte includes senior infielders Grace Beatty and Haley Pace along with senior pitcher Haley Wiseman as the trio earned spots on the C-USA preseason team. Beatty batted .377 with 16 doubles, five homers along with 41 RBI. She also ranked 36th in the nation in doubles per game. Pace led the squad with her .433 average and had 12 doubles along with 15 home runs and 47 RBI.
In the circle, Wiseman went 23-15 in 40 appearances, including 37 starts. She tossed 224 innings with a 3.53 earned run average, allowing 124 runs, including 113 earned runs. Wiseman allowed 183 hits, 128 walks, while striking out 212. She ranked 26th nationally in strikeouts (212) and 28th in wins (23).
Elon is scheduled to host North Carolina Central in its second doubleheader of the weekend on Sunday, Feb. 11. That game is slated for a 1 p.m. start time.