ELON, N.C. – Tomeka Watson’s 14th homer of the season and a two-hit complete game performance in the circle by freshman Kayla Caruso highlighted the Elon softball team’s 4-1 victory over Western Carolina on Sunday, April 14. The Phoenix (14-26, 4-11 Southern Conference) clinched the series in today’s rubber match win over the Catamounts (16-30, 6-12 SoCon) at Hunt Softball Park.
Watson went 3-for-3 on the day with her two-run home run in the bottom of the second inning to pace the Phoenix offensively. Grace Eng was also perfect at the plate after going 2-for-2.
Caruso (8-10) capped off a great weekend after going all 7.0 innings and allowing only one run, earned, while striking out four batters in the win. The Kennesaw, Ga., native posted a similar stat line in her victory on Saturday, April 13, against the Catamounts, going 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA in 14.0 innings in the series.
The Phoenix got off to a great start in the bottom half of the opening frame. Watson doubled to right center to lead off the inning and advanced to third on an Aly Quintana sacrifice bunt. Carleigh Nester singled through the left side to drive Watson home and plate the first run of the game. Emily Cameron followed with another single through the right side to move Nester to third. A wild pitch would bring Nester across the plate and gave Elon a 2-0 lead before the end of the inning.
After Western Carolina went down 1-2-3 in the top of the second, Elon added two more runs to its lead. Watson hit a two-out two-run home run over the left field fence, scoring her and Caitlin O’Shea to push the Phoenix’s advantage to 4-0. The Catamounts were forced to make a pitching change as Jordan Garrett came on to relieve starter Mallory Broome. Garret induced the final out of the inning, but Elon clearly had the momentum with a four-run lead.
Both teams went scoreless in the third before WCU finally added a run to the scoreboard. Taylor Sigmon hit a one-out double to right center and moved to third on a Haley Pace single to right. A Heather Chastain grounder to second scored Sigmon to bring the Catamounts within three with a runner on third, but Caruso forced the next batter to pop up and escape the inning.
Caruso quickly shook off giving up the run and set the tone for the remainder of the game. The rookie did not allow another hit on the afternoon, retiring the next 11 batters she faced, including three consecutive 1-2-3 innings.
A great defensive play from Watson in the top of the fifth helped prevent the Catamounts from getting back into the game. Megan Crowe hit a one-out deep shot into left near the wall, but Watson was able to make a great play on the ball to prevent any potential runs. Caruso struck out Amber Kimrey on the next at bat to end the inning.
In the top of the seventh, Caruso set down the first two batters on a grounder and a pop out before fanning her fourth Catamount to end the game.
Broome (4-8) took the loss for the Catamounts after going only 1.2 innings and giving up four runs, three earned, off four hits. Garrett pitched well in relief, going 4.1 innings on four hits and no runs allowed.
The Phoenix will look to build its momentum and move up in the league standings as Elon travels to Birmingham, Ala., for a three-game series with Samford. The Phoenix and the Bulldogs will begin the series with a doubleheader on Saturday, April 20, at 2 p.m. EST. The series will conclude on Sunday, April 21, at 2 p.m. EST.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E Western Carolina 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 2 1 Elon 2 2 0 0 0 0 X 4 8 1
Win – Caruso (8-10). Loss – Broome (4-8). Save – None.
Umpires – HP: Jeffrey Blanken 1B: Sid Ferguson 3B: Lynn Dunbar
Start: 1 p.m. Time: 1:21 Attendance: 183
Weather: 66 degrees, partly cloudy