CULLOWHEE, N.C. – The Elon University softball team dropped a hard fought, 10-inning game in its Southern Conference opener, 4-3, at Western Carolina on Friday, March 14, at the Catamount Softball Complex.
Elon (15-7-1, 0-1 SoCon) fell in its first game on the road in nearly a month to the Catamounts (10-14, 1-0 SoCon) after rallying from an early 2-0 deficit in the first inning. The Phoenix had seven hits as a team, with freshman Alaina Hall leading the way after going 2-for-5 at the plate.
Junior Caitlin O’Shea (4-2) took the loss for the Phoenix after going 8.2 innings and giving up seven hits and two runs, both unearned. WCU’s Jordan Garrett (3-9) pitched the entire 10.0 innings and allowed three runs with eight strikeouts.
The Phoenix fell into a 2-0 hole in the bottom of the opening frame. Elon retired the first two batters, but WCU’s Kara Salvo drew a two-out walk to reach base and advanced to third on a Taylor Sigmon single up to middle. Salvo scored later on a single by Courtney Buchanan to put the Catamounts up 1-0. WCU plated its second run as Sigmon crossed home plate on an Amber Kimrey single to move up 2-0.
O’Shea relieved starter Chelsea White and was able to strikeout the next batter to record the final putout of the inning. The Phoenix however faced a 2-0 deficit heading into the top of the second.
Elon responded with a run of its own in the top of the second. Freshman Emily Roper was walked to lead off the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. A one-out single by fellow freshman Carey Million advanced Roper to third before a two-out single by senior Lauren Oldham trimmed the Phoenix’s deficit to one, 2-1, heading into the bottom of the second.
Elon took the lead in the top of the third to move up 3-2. Hall reached on a bunt single and stole second to move into immediate scoring position with no outs. Carleigh Nester followed with a two-run homerun to center to give the maroon and gold the 3-2 advantage.
O’Shea and the Phoenix kept the Catamounts under wraps with three scoreless innings, including two consecutive 1-2-3 innings from O’Shea in the third and fourth frames. WCU managed to tie the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the fifth. Karley Harkey drew a one-out walk and moved all the way to third due to some Elon miscues on the next at bat. She would score the tying run on a sacrifice fly by Salvo to right field, knotting the game at 3-3.
Elon had a chance to go up in the top of the seventh after loading the bases with only one out. Hall hit a one-out single up the middle and stole second to move to scoring position. Nester and Emily Cameron drew back-to-back walks to load the bases, but all three would be stranded as Garrett struck out the next two batters to move into the bottom half of the inning.
O’Shea and the Phoenix was able to get itself out of a jam after the Catamounts had runners reach second and third with two outs after Salvo grounded out to second. After the Phoenix intentionally walked Sigmon, O’Shea forced the next batter to pop up to move the game into extras.
Neither team generated much offensively in the eighth and ninth despite the Catamounts recording a hit in both innings. In the 10th inning with the international tiebreaker rule in place, Elon placed a runner on second in O’Shea, who then advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Grace Eng. Million then drew a walk on the next at bat and stole second to give Elon runners in scoring position. The Phoenix flied out to left field on the next at bat, but O’Shea was called out for leaving early and Million was tagged out to complete the double play for Western Carolina, moving the game to the bottom of the inning.
The Catamounts scored the winning run in the bottom half of the 10th on an Elon error to give them the 4-3 victory and the Phoenix its second straight loss.
The two programs return to the field tomorrow afternoon to conclude the series in a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 R H E Elon 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 7 2 Western Carolina 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 4 10 0
Note: 1 out, 3 runners LOB when the game ended.
Win – Garrett (3-9)
Loss – O’Shea (4-2)
Save – None.
Umpires – HP: Jeffrey Blanken 1B: Ricie Sexton 3B: Michael Macedonia
Start: 5:30 pm Time: 3 hrs Attendance: 125
Weather: Sunny and Mild