STATESBORO, Ga. – Carleigh Nester tied the program’s all-time RBI mark and recorded her 200 career hit, but the Elon University softball team fell in a Southern Conference doubleheader to Georgia Southern on Saturday, March 22, at Eagle Field at the Georgia Southern Softball complex. The Phoenix (16-11-1, 1-4 SoCon) fell to the Eagles (20-1-, 4-1 SoCon), 7-3, in game one before losing a 5-4 setback in the final game in extras.
The series finale will begin tomorrow, March 23, at 11 a.m. with the game being moved up from 1 p.m. due to inclement weather in the area.
Georgia Southern 7, Elon 3
Elon spotted three runs to the Eagles in the bottom of the first thanks to a Kourtny Thomas three-run home run to left field. Thomas drove in Taylor Rodgers and Emily Snider with her 11th homer of the year to give Georgia Southern the early 3-0 advantage after one.
Elon had two base runners reach in the top of the second due to walks. Emily Cameron drew a one out free pass and advanced to second on a stolen base. Carey Million, who was also walked by Georgia Southern starter Sarah Purvis with two outs, joined her on the bases but Elon would strikeout to end the inning.
Georgia Southern added two more runs to its lead in the bottom half of the inning. Lexi Allen led off with a double then moved to third on a single by Breanna McClendon. Allen plated the Eagles’ fourth run of the game on an Elon error to put Georgia Southern up 4-0. A sacrifice fly by Shelby Morrill added another run and Elon trailed Georgia Southern, 5-0, going to the top of the third.
Elon rebounded in the top of the third to score its first runs of the contest. Lauren Oldham drew another walk from Purvis and advanced to second on a single by Alaina Hall. The pair moved to scoring position after a squeeze play by Ali Ford with Nester coming up to the plate. The senior hit her 10th homer of the season and 200th career hit down the left field line to pull the Phoenix within two, 5-3, after the top of the third.
Both teams went scoreless in the fourth, but the Eagles plated two more runs in the bottom of the fifth. The Eagles’ Kaitlyn Johnson led off with a double and scored on an AJ Hamilton single to push the score to 6-3. Hamilton would later cross home plate on a Dominique Grossman grounder to second and the Phoenix faced a four-run deficit going to the sixth down 7-3.
The Phoenix could only muster one hit in the final two innings before falling to the final score of 7-3.
Elon had three hits total against the Eagles in game one with Nester, Hall and Johanna Spencer each recording one. Starter Kayla Caruso (2-1) took her first loss of the season after going 4.1 innings with a strikeout.
Georgia Southern 5, Elon 4 (8)
Georgia Southern scored two runs in the bottom of the opening frame of game two. Rodgers was walked to lead off the inning then stole second to move to scoring position. A bunt single by Snider advanced Rodgers to third before she crossed home plate on a Morrill grounder to the shortstop. Snider would add its second run after Thomas singled through the right side to put the Eagles up 2-0.
Elon answered in the top of the second to tie the game at 2-2. Cameron singled to begin the inning and stole second with Emily Roper at the plate. Roper followed with a double to right center to drive Cameron and trim Georgia Southern’s lead to one. Freshman Carey Million joined her on the bases on a walk before Spencer drove in the tying run on a ground out to the shortstop. With only one out and a runner at third, Elon had a chance to plate the go-ahead run, but Georgia Southern was able to retire the next two batters to end the threat.
The Eagles jumped back in front in the bottom of the second however on a two-out single by Morrill that scored McClendon, who had reached earlier on a single. The Phoenix and the Eagles moved to the top of the third with Elon trailing Georgia Southern 3-2.
Georgia Southern added another run in the bottom of the fourth as Snider scored on a Thomas groundout to the shortstop. The Eagles and the Phoenix moved to the top of the fifth with the score at 4-2.
Elon answered again with a two-run top of the fifth to tie game for a second time. Hall reached on a single to start the inning and moved to second after Emilie Rowand reached on an error. Both runners then advanced to scoring position on the throw as Nester headed to the plate.
The Kernersville, N.C., native belted her 46th career double into left center to drive in Hall and Rowand to tie the game at 4-4. The RBI put Nester in a tie with former All-American Tomeka Watson (2010-13) for the most RBI in school history with 125. She also moved into a tie with Jenny Gustin (2001-04) for the second-most doubles in program history.
Neither team scored in the sixth and seventh innings leading to the game moving to extras in the eighth. Elon had two runners reach on in the inning, but could not drive them as the game moved to the bottom half.
Elon recorded the first out of the inning, but allowed the next batter to reach on an error. She would eventually score the winning run on as the Eagles’ Morgan Robinson doubled to give Georgia Southern the 5-4 walk-off win.
O’Shea (4-5) took the loss for the Phoenix in relief after pitching 5.1 innings while allowing only one earned run. Million led the way at the plate for Elon with two hits as the Phoenix recorded six overall as a team.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E Elon 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 3 3 2 Georgia Southern 3 2 0 0 2 0 X 7 8 0
Win – Purvis (10-4)
Loss – Caruso (2-1)
Save – None.
Umpires – HP: Nelson Rosa 1B: Heath Walker 3B: Marvin Talley
Start: 12:55 pm Time: 2:10 Attendance: 269
Weather: 72 deg, PCloudy, SW 3mph
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 R H E Elon 0 2 0 0 2 0 0 0 4 6 1 Georgia Southern 2 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 5 10 3
Note: 1 out, 2 runners LOB when the game ended.
Win – Red (8-4)
Loss – O’Shea (4-4)
Save – None.
Umpires – HP: Heath Walker 1B: Marvin Talley 3B: Nelson Rosa
Start: 3:34 pm Time: 2:38 Attendance: 356
Weather: 76deg, MCloudy, SSW 5mph