ATHENS, Ga. – The Elon University softball team earned its third win ever versus a top-10 opponent as the Phoenix defeated No. 8 Georgia, 5-4, in its opening game today, March 9, at the UGA Classic. Elon later earned a victory over Western Illinois, 6-3, in its nightcap game at Jack Turner Stadium.
Elon (14-7-1) stunned the eighth-ranked Bulldogs with its second-ever win over Georgia. Both victories have come with the Bulldogs ranked in the top-10 with Elon last accomplishing that feat in 2013 at then sixth-ranked Georgia.
“After yesterday’s close game (to Georgia), the players realized that we could play with them,”said Phoenix head coach Kathy Bocock. “Today when we came out, we were real loose and relaxed and we just went at the game one inning at a time. The players did a great job from both a pitching and offensive standpoint and everyone did their job.”
Game One: Elon 5, No. 8 Georgia 4
The Phoenix got on the board first against the Bulldogs in the second inning. Keagan Goldwait hit a one-out single up the middle and advanced to second on another single from Ashtyn Foddrell. A strikeout left the Phoenix down to its final out, but Megan White’s single to center field plated a run to put the Phoenix up 1-0.
Elon added two more runs in the fourth frame. Goldwait and Foddrell reached again with one out on a walk and a double, respectively, to move into scoring position. Lauryn Clarke drove them both home on her two-RBI single to center as Elon increased its lead to 3-0.
In the fifth inning, Clarke came through again for the Phoenix offense. Elon loaded the bases with no outs and forced the Bulldogs to make a pitching change. The first two batters after the switch were set down as Elon was in danger of leaving the ducks on the pond. Clarke however responded with another two-run single as the Phoenix moved ahead 5-0.
Georgia’s offense finally came alive in the sixth inning. A two-RBI single scored the first two runs of the game for the Bulldogs as Georgia looked for a big inning. The Phoenix countered with a pitching change as Kenna Quinn relieved Elise Walton in the circle. Quinn promptly retired the next two batters via strikeouts as the game moved to the seventh with Elon up 5-2.
The Bulldogs had two reach on one-out doubles in its home half of the seventh. Elon induced the second out on a grounder, but back-to-back RBI singles from Georgia trimmed the Phoenix’s advantage to one, 5-4. A line out to second on the next at bat however would secure the Phoenix’s upset win over the eighth-ranked Bulldogs.
Elon had six hits in the game with Clarke contributing with a 2-of-3 effort at the plate with four RBI. Foddrell also had a multi-hit game, her team-best seventh of the season, after going 2-of-4.
Walton (1-1) earned her first win of the season after going 5.1 innings and allowing six hits, two runs with a strikeout. Quinn received the save after throwing 1.2 innings in relief and had four hits and two runs allowed with a pair of strikeouts.
Game Two: Elon 6, Western Illinois 3
Elon used the long ball to help with its win over Western Illinois in its nightcap game. Erica Serafini was the first to strike for the Phoenix with her solo homer to left field in the first to give the Phoenix the early 1-0 lead.
The Phoenix followed with another solo round tripper in the third off the bat of Ally Repko. The Broadway, Va., native connected on her team-leading fourth of the year to push the Phoenix to a 2-0 advantage.
The Leathernecks came back to tie it in the bottom of the third. WIU led off with a triple to left field and scored on the next at bat off a single to left. Western Illinois got two runners on after a bunt single with no outs and loaded the bases on a one-out walk. A runner was able to cross the dish to tie it at two-all on a sacrifice fly before a ground out ended the inning.
The Phoenix came back with a two-spot in the top of the fifth. Allie Eith opened the frame with a double to left center and moved to third on a ground out. Rebecca Murray then belted the Phoenix’s third homer of the day as Elon retook the lead, 4-2.
Two more came across the dish thanks to the Phoenix’s fourth homerun of the contest in the sixth. Clarke drew a two-out walk enabling Callie Horn to come to the plate. The Durham, N.C., native connected on her first career homerun with the two-run blast putting the Phoenix ahead 6-2.
Western Illinois added a run in the bottom of the seventh, but the Phoenix would keep the Leathernecks from making a rally and closed out the game with the 6-3 victory.
The four homeruns tied the Phoenix’s single-game best from this season as Elon ended the day with 10 total hits in the game. Serafini was 3-of-4 at the plate with her homerun and a triple while Murray and Horn each drove in two runs.
Abby Barker took the win in the circle for the Phoenix, moving to 9-2 on the year. The Granville, Ohio, native tossed another complete game performance, her eighth of the season, and allowed seven hits and three runs while fanning five batters.
The Phoenix is back at home at Hunt Softball Park for its midweek matchup versus Radford on Wednesday, March 13. That game is scheduled for a 5 p.m. first pitch.