BOONE, N.C. – The Elon softball team staved off elimination in the 2012 Southern Conference Softball Championship by picking up an impressive 7-3 victory over Western Carolina today, May 10, at Sywassink/Lloyd Family Stadium. The seventh seeded Phoenix (23-26) moves on, while the season came to an end for the sixth seeded Catamounts (24-34).
Erin O’Shea (15-14) earned the complete game win, allowing three runs off five hits and striking out three. WCU’s Katie King (4-9) took the loss after six earned runs off seven hits in four innings in the circle. Amber Steinhardt replaced King in the top of the fifth and gave up one run in three innings.
Carleigh Nester went 2-for-2 at the plate with two runs and one RBI, while also drawing a walk and hitting a sacrifice bunt. Camille Hill also added a pair of hits in four at bats and Kaitlyn Piazzolla scored three runs off her one hit of the game.
Elon took a solid lead early with two runs in the top of the first. Nester led the game off with a walk and moved to second on a bunt hit right in front of the plate by Hill that also found her safe at first. With one out, E. O’Shea singled to the fence in center, reaching second on the throw, to score Nester and put the Phoenix on the board. A ground out to second by Piazzolla scored Hill from third for another run and a 2-0 Elon advantage.
In the top of the third, Nester hit a leadoff single up the middle and then stole second before a ground out by Hill moved her to third. With one out, a single to left by Watson scored Nester to make it a three-run lead. After Watson stole second, Piazzolla hit a deep ball to left field for a two-run homer and a 5-0 edge over the Catamounts.
Western answered in the bottom of the frame with a leadoff home run to left by Haley Pace to close the gap to four, 5-1.
Danielle Lafferty led things off for the Phoenix in the fourth with a single to the gap in left field. Ali Ford then hit a sacrifice bunt to move Lafferty to second. With two outs, Nester hit a single to right center, which would have been a home run if not for the net above the fence, to score Lafferty and give the maroon and gold a 6-1 lead.
The Catamounts added another solo home run to the box score with a ball to left by Morgan Wyatt to make it a 6-2 game. In the bottom of the sixth, Western cut the gap to three, 6-3, off an RBI single up the middle by Steinhardt to score Erin Foster from second. Foster had drawn a leadoff walk and stolen second.
Elon added an insurance run in the top of the seventh off a single by E. O’Shea. Lauren Oldham was walked to start the inning and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt to second by Nester. A single down the left field line by Hill moved Oldham to third before a one-out single up the middle by E. O’Shea scored the right fielder to make it a four-run game, 7-3.
Elon will play the loser of the Georgia Southern/Appalachian State game tomorrow, May 11, at 12 p.m. If the Phoenix wins that game, the team will play again at 5 p.m.