ELON, N.C. – Behind career-best performances from freshman catcher Carey Million and junior pitcher Chelsea White, the Elon University softball team opened the first day of its home tournament, the Elon Phoenix Tournament, with a 17-8 victory over Coppin State and a 2-0 win over Dayton on Saturday, March 1, at Hunt Softball Park.
Elon improved to 10-5-1 with its wins over the Lady Eagles and the Flyers. The Phoenix concludes the tournament with a rematch against Coppin State tomorrow, March 2, at 2 p.m. before facing Presbyterian in the finale shortly afterwards.
Elon 17, Coppin State 8 (5)
Elon brought explosive bats to its first game of the tournament versus Coppin State, but found itself in some trouble to open the game. The Lady Eagles led off the contest with a pair of singles and moved into scoring position with no outs. Gabrielle Ziller then singled to plate the first run of the game before another single by Shelby Mendoza pushed Coppin State’s lead to 2-0. After the next batter was walked to load the bases with one out, Talya Berry drew a hit-by-pitch from White to score another run as the Phoenix faced an 3-0 hole in the top of the opening frame.
The Phoenix went with a change in the circle as Caitlin O’Shea relieved White and finagled the next two outs despite the Lady Eagles adding another run to push its lead to 4-0 after the top of the inning.
Elon wasted no time to answer in the bottom of the first as Alaina Hall led off with a double and was driven home on a two-run home run by Carleigh Nester, bringing the maroon and gold within two, 4-2. It was Nester’s 25th career home, placing her in a tie for third all-time with Pam Brock on the program’s all-time list.
Emily Cameron then brought the Phoenix within one, scoring after Grace Eng reached on a fielder’s choice. A wild pitch advanced Eng to second before she moved to third on a single by Ali Ford. Aly Quintana tied the game at 4-4 with her single to left field, scoring Eng and moving Ford to third. Ford then scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error by the catcher, giving the Phoenix a 5-4 advantage. The lead would increase to two as Million drove in Quintana on a double to left center before Hall added her second double of the inning to drive in Million to give Elon a 7-4 lead after the first.
O’Shea would throw a scoreless second and third inning, adding four strikeouts in that frame. The Phoenix bats came alive in the bottom of the third after Quintana led off with a double down the left field line and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Million then hit a two-run home run to left center over the scoreboard, the first of her career, to put Elon ahead 9-4. Hall singled on the next at bat and was driven in by Nester’s double to center, putting Elon up 10-4. The Phoenix plated two more runs in the inning and took a 12-4 lead into the top of the fourth.
Coppin State responded with four runs of its own in the top of the fifth to close the gap to four, 12-8. Elon countered with another five-run inning in the bottom half however, starting with freshman Katie Rufo’s one out single to left field. She would advance to second on a passed ball before she, Ford and Quintana scored on a Lauren Oldham base-clearing double to left center. Million then capped the game with her second home run of the day to left center, giving the Phoenix the 17-8 victory.
Million led the way at the plate for Elon after going 3-for-3 with five RBI and three runs scored. Nester and Oldham also had three RBI apiece while Hall also went 3-for-3 at the plate with a pair of doubles.
O’Shea (2-1) earned the win after pitching 3.2 scoreless innings while giving up two hits and striking out four.
Elon 2, Dayton 0
White (5-3) rebounded very well in the Phoenix’s second game of the day against the Flyers. The Salisbury, N.C., native tied a career-high with eight strikeouts and gave up three hits while earning the complete game victory.
Elon got on the board first in the bottom of the third inning. Hall hit her first career home run after taking a 3-2 pitch down the right field line to plate the Phoenix’s first run of the game, 1-0.
The Phoenix added another insurance run in the bottom of the fourth. Eng led off with a double down the left field line and advanced to third on Ford’s sacrifice bunt. Quintana hit a one-out single up the middle to score Eng and put Elon up 2-0.
White was able to maintain the game from there, giving up only one hit in the final three innings and none in the final two. She would close the game very strong with her seventh and eighth fanned batter in the top of the seventh to give the Phoenix a 2-0 win. The victory was also the fourth straight for White after she started the season 1-3.
Elon had five hits total versus Dayton with five different players each getting a hit from the Flyers’ pitching duo of Gabrielle Snyder (3-2) and Emily Froment. Both teams had seven runners left on base.