ATHENS, Ga. – The Elon softball team opened its 2013 campaign on Friday, Feb. 8, splitting a pair of games at the Red and Black Showcase including an upset of eighth-ranked and host Georgia, 5-2, in the second game of the day. It is the Phoenix’s first-ever win over a top-10 opponent and against Southeastern Conference competition.
Elon lost its opening game of the Red and Black Showcase at the hands of Ohio State in a 10-2 setback on at Jack Turner Stadium.
The Phoenix fell to the Buckeyes (1-0) in the first ever meeting between the two schools, despite the first career home run from sophomore Grace Eng in the top of the second inning.
Ohio State jumped ahead to an early 3-0 lead after the first when two of the first three runners advanced on a free pass. Evelyn Carrillo singled to right field to drive in two and gave the Buckeyes a 2-0 advantage. After consecutive strikeouts by Elon’s Kayla Caruso, Ohio State’s Megan Coletta tacked on another run with a single to left field before Cammi Pranti flied out to end the inning.
After the Phoenix’s Camille Hill reached base on balls, Eng hit a shot off OSU’s Olivia O’Reilly over the center field wall to bring Elon within one, 3-2. The maroon and gold could not add to the momentum as the next three batters went down in order.
Caruso would settle in and allow only two hits over the next three innings, but Elon could not get back on the board. The maroon and gold threatened in the top of the third when Johanna Spencer and Aly Quintana reached base on two outs, but Hill would pop up to the left fielder to end the inning.
After Elon went down in order in the top of the fifth, the Buckeyes plated seven runs in the bottom half.
Caruso (0-1) went 4.1 innings with three strikeouts in her first collegiate game and ended up taking the loss. Caitlin O’Shea pitched in relief for Elon.
O’Reilly pitched all five innings and had five strikeouts and allowed four hits.
The Phoenix responded in the second game of the day against host and eighth-ranked Georgia with sophomore Chelsea White toeing the rubber. The Salisbury, N.C., native had a great day in the circle and was aided by the maroon and gold defense behind her.
After walking UGA’s Tina Iosefa to load the bases in the first, White retired the next seven batters she faced and did not allow a hit until the fourth inning. The Bulldogs would finally get on the board in that inning with Anna Swafford scoring on a wild pitch to move ahead 1-0.
In the top of the sixth with runners at first and second and only one out, Tomeka Watson hit a three-run home run down the left field line to give the Phoenix its first lead of the game, 3-1. It was the Jackson, Ga., native’s second hit of the day. In the bottom of the inning, White struck out her sixth and seventh batters of the afternoon before causing Kaylee Puailoa to ground to advance to the seventh.
Elon would add two more runs to go up 5-1 in the top of the seventh. After Grace Eng was hit by a pitch, freshman Emily Cameron drove her home with a two-run home run over the right-center field wall.
Georgia added a run in the bottom of the seventh to cut the deficit to 5-2, but could not get any closer as the Phoenix gave the Bulldogs its first season-opening loss since 2005.
White (1-0) pitched a complete game in the win, allowing only one earned run and establishing a new career-high in strikeouts. The loss went to UGA’s Chelsea Wilkinson (0-1) who went six innings with five hits, four earned runs and six strikeouts.
Watson went 2-for-4 with three RBI and a home run. Nester also went 2-for-4. All of five Elon’s runs were scored by different players.
The maroon and gold face a rematch with the Bulldogs tomorrow with the opening pitch set for 12:30 p.m. The Phoenix will close the tournament against Winthrop at 5:30 p.m.