CULLOWHEE, N.C. – The Elon University softball team split its doubleheader on the final day of its first Southern Conference series at Western Carolina on Saturday, March 15. The Phoenix (16-8-1, 1-2 SoCon) won game one, 2-1, before falling to the Catamounts (11-15, 2-1 SoCon) in the rubber match.
Elon 2, Western Carolina 1
Sophomore Kayla Caruso (2-0) earned her second win of the year with a complete game performance in the opening contest versus the Catamounts. The Kennesaw, Ga., native gave up nine hits, but allowed only one run while striking out two.
Senior Carleigh Nester was 2-for-4 at the plate with a home run and two RBI. Elon had five hits total as a team compared to nine to Western Carolina.
The Phoenix opened the first inning very strong with Alaina Hall leading off with a single through the left side of the infield. She was driven home by Nester’s eighth home run of the year that put the Phoenix up 2-0. Elon had two more runners reach base, but they would be stranded as the Catamounts recorded the final putout to end the inning on a strikeout.
The Phoenix had a great defensive play in the bottom of the second. Courtney Price reached on a one-out single with a hard drive to first, giving the Catamounts a runner on base. Amber Kimrey followed with a hit to second base, but the Phoenix was able to convert the 4-6-3 double play to end the threat by the Catamounts.
Elon again got out of a jam in the third as Western Carolina placed runners on first and second. Brooke Coggins drew a hit by pitch and advanced to second on a two-out single by Amelia Griffin to the shortstop. Caruso was able to force the next batter to with a groundout to end the inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Catamounts again had a runner reach scoring position. Taylor Sigmon hit a one-out single to left field and moved to second after a ground out by Price. Caruso completed her fourth scoreless frame however after getting the next batter to fly out for the third out.
The Catamounts plated its first run of the game to pull within one in the bottom of the seventh. Makenzi McAteer led off the inning with a double down the left field line to go to immediate scoring position. McAteer advanced to third on an error and scored behind a Karley Harkey sacrifice fly to right, cutting Elon’s lead to a single run, 2-1.
WCU added another runner on base on a Kara Salvo single to left field giving the Catamounts runners at first and second. Caruso however was able to retire the final batter to end the game and get the 2-1 for Elon.
Western Carolina 3, Elon 0
The Catamounts plated the first run of the second game in the bottom of the opening inning. WCU led off the game with a pair of singles to place two runners on with no outs before the third batter flied out to right moving runners to the corners. The Phoenix however mishandled the throw, leading to WCU scoring the first run of the game and go up, 1-0, over Elon in the bottom of the first.
Elon starter Caitlin O’Shea got out of a few jams thanks to some great defensive plays from the maroon and gold defense. The Catamounts were able to have a few runners reach second in the second and fourth frames, but Elon was able to hold them to keep within distance down a single run.
In the bottom of the fifth, WCU’s Amelia Griffin singled to lead off the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. She stole third with one out and gave the Catamounts runners on the corners after Kara Salvo reached on a fielder’s choice. A great diving catch by Ali Ford on Taylor Sigmon’s liner robbed the Catamounts of potentially scoring a few runs while recording the second out.
WCU however added a pair of insurance runs starting with a single on the next at bat that scored Griffin to put the Catamounts up 2-0. Western Carolina added another score and moved to the sixth up 3-0.
Elon finally recorded its lone hit of the contest as Hall sent a Jordan Garrett pitch down the left field line for a two-out single, breaking up the no-hit bid. Garrett would recover by striking out the next batter to end the inning.
The Phoenix added another runner on base in the top of the seventh after Grace Eng drew a two-out walk, but Garrett recorded her seventh strikeout to end the game.
O’Shea (4-2) pitched 5.0 innings and gave up nine hits and three runs, two earned. Freshman Alli Burdette came in a pitched a scoreless sixth for the Phoenix, fanning two batters. Garrett (4-9) picked up her second win of the series with a complete game, one-hit performance
Elon returns to Hunt Softball Park to host Towson on March 19, in a single-game, midweek contest. That game is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E Elon 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 5 2 Western Carolina 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 9 0
Win – Caruso (2-0)
Loss – Buchanan (4-2)
Save – None.
Umpires – HP: Rickie Sexton 1B: Michaeal Macedonia 3B: Jeffrey Blanken
Start: 1 PM Time: 1hr 57 Attendance: 225
Weather: Sunny and mild
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E Elon 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 Western Carolina 1 0 0 0 2 0 X 3 9 1
Win – Garrett (4-9)
Loss – O’Shea (4-3)
Save – None.
Umpires – HP: Michael Macedonia 1B: Jeffrey Blanken 3B: Rickie Sexton
Start: 3:30 PM Time: 1hr 39 Attendance: 225
Weather: Sunny and mild, windy