ELON, N.C. – The Elon softball team is set and ready to head to Boone, N.C., for the 19th Southern Conference Softball Championship. The Phoenix will play as the seventh seed in the tournament and face second seeded Chattanooga on Wednesday, May 9, at 12 p.m. All games of the double elimination tournament hosted by Appalachian State will be played at Sywassink/Lloyd Family Stadium.
A Look at the Phoenix
Elon enters the 2012 tournament with a 22-25 season record and a 9-15 conference record. Last week, the Phoenix picked up wins at North Carolina A&T and against College of Charleston. Although the Cougars took the series against the maroon and gold, 2-1, only one run decided each game. Elon has three hitters with averages over .300 for the season (Tomeka Watson, Carleigh Nester and Camille Hill), while the pitchers have compiled a 3.40 season ERA.
Scouting the Lady Mocs
Chattanooga is 37-14 (20-2 SoCon) this season and earned the second seed in the conference tournament. The Lady Mocs have the league’s player of the year in Michelle Fuzzard, who is hitting .448 and leads the conference with 61 RBI. The senior has hit 14 home runs out of the team’s 58 total. UTC led the way with 12 all-conference selections (four first team, five second team and three all-freshman). The Lady Mocs swept the Phoenix earlier this season in Chattanooga, Tenn.
The conference announced on Monday that Tomeka Watson had been named to the 2012 Southern Conference Softball All-Conference Second Team. Watson has started 44 games for the Phoenix this season and leads the team and ranks seventh in the conference with a .383 batting average. The junior has hit eight doubles, one triple and six home runs in her 54 hits, while driving in 32 runs and scoring 36. A preseason first-team selection, Watson has 26 stolen bases this year and ranks first in the league and 219th in the nation in stolen bases per game (0.59). The left fielder has a 1.000 fielding percentage with 54 putouts, five assists and no errors on the season. A native of Jackson, Ga., Watson also owns a .582 slugging percentage and a .443 on base percentage and is the fourth hardest player to strikeout in the country with only three strikeouts this season.
The Phoenix blasted five home runs in five games last week to increase the team’s total to 26 on the year. Junior Morgan Wright sent two balls over the fence in games against N.C. A&T and College of Charleston. Kaitlyn Piazzolla also hit a long ball against the Aggies, while Erin O’Shea and Tomeka Watson both hit homers against the Cougars.
Twice as Nice
Elon ranks 16th in the nation in double plays per game after turning 20 double plays in 47 games to average 0.43.
The Phoenix has stolen 77 bases on the season to rank 23rd in the country and average 1.64 stolen bases per game. Tomeka Watson has stolen 26 of those bases and is 19th nationally with 0.59 per game.
Record Book Update
Several members of this year’s team have made a place for themselves in Elon’s record book. Erin O’Shea holds numerous spots on the career pitching lists, including first in appearances (123), second in strikeouts (455), third in starts (86), fourth in wins (50) and fifth in complete games (40). Kaitlyn Piazzolla is tied for third in career home runs with 21 and is fourth in career putouts with 807. Danielle Lafferty has recorded 323 assists in her career to rank fifth, while Tomeka Watson has stolen 74 career bases and ranks second.
Just Two Years Ago
On May 14, 2010, the Elon softball team claimed the Southern Conference Softball Championship after a 6-3 victory over UNCG in Chattanooga. The Phoenix had defeated the three seeded Georgia Southern Eagles, 3-2, and the four seeded Spartans, 6-4, the previous day before claiming the tournament title. The championship was a program first, as well as the first SoCon women’s team championship for an Elon team. The team went on to celebrate another program first by making an appearance in the NCAA Regionals in Athens, Ga.
So Long, Farewell
Sunday’s game marked the last game for Elon softball at East Field. Next season, the Phoenix will begin playing at the new Hunt Softball Park. The new facility is set to open in 2013 and will include a state-of-the-art field, dugouts, lighting, scoreboard, press box and grandstand seating. The final phase of the project will add a clubhouse with locker rooms, additional seating, an entry plaza and a permanent space for concessions.
Last time in Boone
The last time an Elon team vied for a SoCon tournament championship in Boone they won it all. The Phoenix men’s soccer team won the 2011 SoCon Men’s Soccer Championship on Nov. 13 by defeating UNCG, 3-2, after defeating nationally-ranked Furman the day before, 1-0.
Elon softball earned two player of the week awards from the Southern Conference over the course of the season. Camille Hill won SoCon Player of the Week on Feb. 13 after her performance the first week of the season. The junior recorded seven hits in 10 at bats in the Elon Invitational, while her nine runs and four RBI helped the Phoenix start the season 4-0. In the team’s 8-0 win over Georgetown, Hill went 3-for-3 with one RBI. The Marietta, Ga., native out together a .750 on-base percentage and a .700 slugging percentage that week.
On March 12, Erin O’Shea was named the league’s player of the Week after leading the Phoenix to a series sweep of Furman and hitting .714. The senior went 5-for-7 at the plate, scoring four runs and recording four RBI. O’Shea did not strike out in any at-bats and was a perfect 3-for-3 in stolen base attempts. The Kennesaw, Ga., native had a .778 on base percentage and recorded a hit and stolen base in every game for the maroon and gold that week. In Elon’s 13-8 win over the Paladins, she finished 3-for-3, including a home run, with two runs scored and four RBI. O’Shea also picked up two wins in the circle for the Phoenix in two starts and three appearances that weekend. She made her 100th appearance at pitcher in a 9-1 complete-game win and recorded her fourth shutout of the year in 3-0 victory on March 11.
The Bocock Box
After the regular season, interim head coach Kathy Bocock is 22-25 at the helm of the Phoenix program. She holds a 258-421 career head coaching record.
Elon’s second game in the 2012 SoCon Softball Championship depends on the outcome of Wednesday’s game against Chattanooga. If the Phoenix win, it will play the winner of the #3 College of Charleston/#6 Western Carolina game at 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 10. If the Lade Mocs defeat the maroon and gold, Elon will go into the consolation bracket and play the loser of the Cougars/Catamounts contest on Thursday at 10 a.m. The championship game of the double elimination tournament is set for Saturday, May 12, at 1:30 p.m.