ELON, N.C. – The Elon softball team split its doubleheader with local rival UNCG on Saturday, March 30, on the final day of the series. The Phoenix (12-19, 2-7 Southern Conference) won game one, 8-5, before losing the series finale, 10-2, to the Spartans (25-7, 7-4 SoCon) at Hunt Softball Park.
Elon 8, UNCG 5
The Phoenix used a two-run bottom of the first inning to take control in game one. Carleigh Nester singled to right field to lead off the game and advanced to third after Camille Hill reached on an error. Hill moved to second on the errant throw and the bases were loaded after Tomeka Watson was intentionally walked. After a double play on the next at bat, Grace Eng lined two-run single to left center to give Elon an 2-0 lead after one.
Elon plated three more runs in the bottom half of the second to up the lead to five. Emilie Rowand drew a one-out walk and advanced to second on a Caitlin O’Shea single to the shortstop. Nester drove in Rowand on a single to center to make the score 3-0. Watson was intentionally walked again with two outs, but Emily Cameron made the Spartans pay with a single to left center as O’Shea and Nester crossed home plate making the score 5-0.
UNCG finally got on the board in the top of the third on a Danielle Vega single to right, scoring Allison Geiner, who reached earlier on a single through the left side. The Spartans added two more runs in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to two, 5-3.
In the bottom half, the maroon and gold answered with two runs of its own. Cameron reached on an error by the shortstop to start off the inning and advanced to second. She would move over to third on an Eng sacrifice bunt and scored on a throwing error by the catcher. Sarah Little drew a free pass on the next at bat and advanced to third after Lauren Oldham doubled into left center. Nester drew a bases loaded two-out walk to score Little and push the lead back to four, 7-3.
Watson helped the Phoenix add an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. The senior doubled to right center to lead off the inning and stole third with one out. A wild pitch by UNCG’s pitcher brought her home to increase Elon’s advantage to five runs, 8-3.
UNCG rallied to add two in the top of the seventh, but the deficit was too much to overcome as the Phoenix held on for the 8-5 victory.
Kayla Caruso (6-7) pitched a complete game for the Phoenix, giving up five runs off 11 hits. She also had two strikeouts. The Spartans’ Erica Navarette (4-4) took the loss for UNCG after going 6.0 innings and allowing eight runs (four earned) on eight hits. She also walked eight batters.
Nester went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBI for the Phoenix. Cameron and Eng also had two RBI for Elon.
UNCG 10, Elon 2 (5)
The Phoenix looked to add to its momentum from the first game to earn the series victory over the Spartans in game two. After both teams went scoreless in the first two and a half innings, Elon got on the board with a run in the bottom of the third. O’Shea singled to left to lead off the inning for Elon and advanced to second on a wild pitch. She would cross home plate after Hill reached on an error by the third baseman to make to score 1-0.
A big fourth inning by the Spartans shifted the momentum as UNCG plated six runs in the frame. Elon was able to get an out to start the inning, but had trouble with the next two. Heather Robb would tie the game on a Katelyn Bedwell bunt single and UNCG added the following five runs to push past the Phoenix and hold a 6-1 lead after the top half of the fourth.
Elon answered with a single run in bottom to keep the maroon and gold within distance. Nester hit a two-out single to right field to score Oldham, who reached earlier on a single to left. Nester moved into scoring position after stealing second, but was stranded as the Spartans induced the final out of the inning.
UNCG added another four runs in the top of the fifth to give itself a comfortable 10-2 advantage. The Phoenix could not respond with another run in the bottom half and the fell to their local rival, 10-2.
Watson went 2-for-2 while drawing a walk. Nester had Elon’s lone RBI for the maroon and gold as the junior went 1-for-3.
UNCG’s Raeanne Hanks (14-3) earned the win after going 5.0 innings and allowing only one earned run on six hits. Elon’s Chelsea White (2-9) took the loss after going 3.2 innings with six runs (four earned) allowed on eight hits.
The Phoenix will take a break outside of SoCon play and host Longwood in a doubleheader on Tuesday, April 2. That first game is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Hunt Softball Park.