ELON, N.C. – Behind two home runs from freshman Emily Roper, the Elon University softball team defeated Furman, 5-4, in game two and the series finale against the Paladins. The win avenged the Phoenix’s 4-2 loss in game one on Sunday, March 30, at Hunt Softball Park.
The victory also snapped a season-high nine-game losing skid for the Phoenix (17-16, 2-7 Southern Conference) while earning career win No. 299 for head coach Kathy Bocock. The Paladins fell to 16-17 overall and 4-4 in SoCon play.
Furman 4, Elon 2
Elon took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the opening frame in game one on an Alaina Hall two-out solo home run to right center. The homer was the third of the year for the rookie and gave the Phoenix the opening advantage.
Furman responded in the following inning to tie the game at 1-1. Ambree Mueller reached on an error and advanced all the way to third on a stolen base with one out. An perfectly executed squeeze play drove her in and knotted the game at 1-1 before Elon induced the final out on a grounder to escape the inning.
The Phoenix retook the lead in the bottom of the third after Carleigh Nester drew a one-out bases loaded walk, putting Elon up 2-1. Nester drove in Lauren Oldham, who had also reached earlier with a free pass. The rest of the runners would be stranded as the Phoenix struck out and grounded out on the next two at bats.
Both teams went scoreless in the fourth and fifth innings, but Furman took the lead for good after the Phoenix spotted three runs in the top of the sixth. Muller led off with a double to left center and scored on a Natalie Clemmons single. Lauren Collier joined Clemmons in scoring position with two outs later in the inning before Elise Smith drove them both in on a single up the middle to put the Paladins up 4-2. Smith would get thrown out trying to reach second to give the ball back to Elon.
The Phoenix however struck out all three times in the bottom half of the seventh, clinching the series for Furman.
Caitlin O’Shea (4-8) pitched a complete game, giving up four runs, three earned, on six hits in defeat. Elon only registered three hits against the Paladins with Hall, Ali Ford and Carey Million all being credited with one each.
Elon 5, Furman 4
In game two, it was Furman who took control of the game early as the Paladins jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Nikki Legg scored on a wild pitch in the top of the first for the first run of the game followed by a Clemmons’ solo home run to lead off the second inning.
Elon answered in the bottom half of the second frame thanks to a two-run home run by Roper. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native took a 2-0 delivery from Furman starter Shelby Parker and sent it over the center field wall, scoring her and Nester, who had reached earlier in the inning on a walk, tying the game at 2-2.
After a scoreless third frame from both teams, Elon tacked on three more runs from Roper’s bat in the bottom of the fourth. Hall singled to lead off the inning followed by Nester earning her second walk of the game. Roper blasted her sixth home run of the season to left field to put the Phoenix up 5-2.
The added runs would give some insurance for Elon freshman starter Alli Burdette. The rookie set down the Paladin in order in the top of the fifth then added her fourth and fifth strikeout of the game to close out the top of the sixth.
Furman would not go away quietly and pull within one in the top of the seventh. Collier drew a hit-by-pitch to begin the inning before being replaced by a pinch runner. After a fly out by Furman, Hannah Pace hit a two-run homer to left field, trimming Elon’s lead to 5-4. Burdette and the Phoenix recovered to record the final two outs to give the Phoenix the win.
Burdette (3-1) allowed four runs on five hits in the complete game win. She also walked one batter. Roper went 2-for-3 at the plate with five RBI and two runs scored.
Elon will return back to Hunt Softball Park on Tuesday, April 1, for a single-game contest against North Carolina A&T. That game is scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. start.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E Furman 0 1 0 0 0 3 0 4 6 1 Elon 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 3 1
Win – Sappington (3-1).
Loss – O’Shea (4-8).
Save – Collier (4).
Umpires – HP: Roger Potts 1B: Alex Leap 3B: David Brewer
Start: 12 pm Time: 2:02 Attendance: 104
Weather: 43 degrees and cloudy
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E Furman 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 4 5 0 Elon 0 2 0 3 0 0 0 5 5 0
Win – Burdette (3-1).
Loss – Parker (4-8).
Save – None.
Umpires – HP: David Brewer 1B: Roger Potts 3B: Alex Leap
Start: 2:45 pm Time: 1:53 Attendance: 107
Weather: 48 degrees and cloudy