ELON, N.C. – Kayla Caruso allowed only two earned runs in seven innings as the Elon softball team won its fifth straight on Wednesday, Feb. 27, with a 6-3 victory over East Carolina at Hunt Softball Park. Caruso (3-2) earned her third consecutive win to help Elon improve to 6-4 while the Pirates fall to 6-8.
Caruso started the game strong after retiring the first two batters, but gave up a solo home run to Alex Fieldhouse that gave ECU an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Caruso was able to recover by striking out the next batter to move to the bottom half of the inning.
Elon would get on the board after Johanna Spencer hit a two-out double with one on to tie the score at 1-1. After Emily Cameron and Aly Quintana each earned a free pass to load the bases, East Carolina made a pitching change as Sarah Christian relieved Mary Beth Smith. Grace Eng would single to left field to drive in Spencer and give Elon a 2-1 lead before Elon grounded out to end the inning.
East Carolina would plate two more runs at the top of the second to move back ahead 3-2. Casey Alcorn led-off with a solo shot over the center field wall to tie the game at 2-2. Jordan Lewis was singled on the next at-bat and advanced to second on an error. Caruso was able to set down the next two batters, but Meredith Mitchell’s single scored Lewis to give the Pirates a one-run advantage.
In the bottom of the second, Elon added three runs to take back the lead. Lauren Oldham and Carleigh Nester led-off with singles followed by Camille Hill reaching base on an error to load the bases for reigning Southern Conference Player of the Week, Tomeka Watson. Watson would reach on a fielder’s choice, scoring Oldham to tie the game at 3-3. Watson would steal her fifth base of the season to move into scoring position for Spencer, who grounded out to the shortstop, but the first basemen was unable to throw Nester out at home as the Phoenix moved ahead, 4-3. Cameron hit a two-out single up the middle on the next at-bat to score Watson and give Elon and Caruso a comfortable 5-3 cushion.
The run support was more than enough for Caruso, who retired the next 11 batters she faced and allowed only one hit from the third through sixth innings. Elon would add one more run in the bottom of the sixth with Nester scoring after a Hill single up the middle to make the score 6-3.
ECU would not go away quietly in the top of the seventh. Alcorn led-off with a double to move into scoring position with Lewis at the plate and the tying run on deck. Lewis’ at-bat resulted in a groundout to second to advance Alcorn to third. Caruso then forced Kelsi Briggs to pop up before striking out Jasmine Robbins to end the game.
Caruso fanned five batters in her third complete game of the season. Smith (1-2) took the loss for ECU, its fifth straight.
Elon has a quick turnaround as the Phoenix face Virginia Tech tomorrow, Feb. 28, at 5 p.m. The Phoenix will hold a special dedication ceremony for the opening of Hunt Softball Park prior to the game at 4 p.m.