ELON, N.C. – Five runs in the second inning followed by six runs in the sixth was more than enough for North Carolina to claim a eventual 13-1 win over the Elon University softball team on Thursday, March 27, in the first-ever meeting between the two programs at the Phoenix’s new facility, Hunt Softball Park.
Elon (16-14-1) and starting pitcher Chelsea White quickly recorded the first two outs to begin the game before falling into some trouble as the Tar Heels (18-12) loaded the bases with the next three batters. Elon was able to record the final out on a fielder’s choice to escape the inning.
The Tar Heels again loaded the bases in the top of the second and this time came through on an Aquilla Mateen single to the shortstop to drive in its first run. UNC followed with another single up the middle that drove in two more runs forcing Elon to make a switch as Kayla Caruso relieved White in the circle. A couple of errors from the Phoenix led to two more runs and a 5-0 deficit after the second.
After UNC added another run in the top of the third, the Phoenix attempted to rally in the bottom of the frame, scoring a run. Lauren Oldham and Alaina Hall hit consecutive one-out singles for the Phoenix followed by Carleigh Nester drawing a walk to load the bases. After a Phoenix strikeout, Elon plated a run after Emily Roper drew a hit-by-pitch from UNC starter Lori Spingola giving the Phoenix a run on the scoreboard. Spingola would recover to force the next batter to fly out to end the inning.
North Carolina answered quickly in the top of the fifth with a solo home run that pushed the Phoenix’s deficit back to six. Caruso retired the next two batters, but a hit-by-pitch and another single led to Elon’s third change in the circle as Alli Burdette stepped in. Burdette and the Phoenix avoided any harm as the next batter grounded out to end the inning.
Burdette threw a scoreless fifth thanks to some heads up play from the maroon and gold defense. UNC’s Kristen Brown led off with a single, but would get thrown out by catcher Carey Million as she attempted to steal second giving the Phoenix two outs. Burdette then struck out Lauren Fuller to give the ball back to Elon in the bottom of the fifth.
A six-run explosion by UNC in the top of the sixth however gave the Tar Heels its largest lead of the game at 13-1. In the bottom half, Roper lined a one-out double to left field and advanced to third on a grounder on the next at bat. She would be stranded there as Elon grounded out to the shortstop to end the game and ensure the run rule win for the Tar Heels.
White took the loss in the circle for Elon, hindered by a pair of walks that helped lead to a five runs allowed, four earned, in her 1.0 inning of action. The Phoenix recorded four hits versus the Tar Heels with Hall, Nester, Roper and Oldham leading the way.
Elon returns to Southern Conference play this weekend, hosting Furman in a three-game series at Hunt Softball Park. Both teams are scheduled for a doubleheader at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 29, before closing the series on Sunday, March 30, at 1 p.m.
1 2 3 4 5 6 R H E North Carolina 0 5 1 1 0 6 13 16 0 Elon 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 4 3
Win – Spingola (13-7)
Loss – White (7-5)
Save – None.
Umpires – HP: David Brewer 1B: David Pezzella 3B: Roger Potts
Start: 5:30 pm Time: 2:26 Attendance: 253
Weather: 55 degrees and mostly sunny