GREENSBORO, N.C – Senior Carleigh Nester set a new single-season school record for home runs, but the Elon University softball team fell in its Southern Conference doubleheader on Saturday, May 3, at rival UNCG. The Phoenix (24-26-1, 6-14 SoCon) fell in five innings in game one, 10-2, before losing a tough one in the second game, 10-8, to the Spartans (26-24, 9-11 SoCon).
The series finale is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 4, at the UNCG Softball Stadium.
UNCG 10, Elon 2 (5)
The Spartans plated four runs in the bottom of the opening frame. Lindsay Thomas lined a double to right center to drive in leadoff hitter Dominique Madruga, who had reached earlier on a walk and moved to second on a stolen base. A bloop single to left by Nicole Thomas scored another run for UNCG before Elon recorded its first out of the inning on the next at bat. UNCG added two more runs to the board on a triple by Tatiana Alcala to push Elon’s deficit to 4-0 at the end of the first.
Elon responded in the top of the second to cut into UNCG’s lead. Aly Quintana reached with a single to the shortstop and advanced to second after Ali Ford drew a one-out walk. The pair was driven in on a double to left center by freshman Carey Million, bringing the Phoenix within two, 4-2. The Spartans induced the next two outs to escape the inning.
The Phoenix attempted to cut into UNCG’s lead in the top of the fifth with runners at the corners with two outs. Nester reached with a one-out double to right center, the 51st of her career. Emily Roper was hit by pitch to join Nester on the bases before being replaced by pinch runner Jenna Reilly. Nester advanced to third on a pop up by the next batter, but Elon would strikeout to end the inning.
UNCG added to its advantage in the bottom of the fifth, exploding for six runs. A leadoff double by Danielle Vega followed by a single from Toni MacReynolds gave the Spartans two on base with no outs. Alcala singled to left field to drive in Vega with MacReynolds also crossing home plate on a single through the left side by Hagan Kiser to put the Spartans up 6-2. After a hit by pitch loaded the bases, Elon went with a change in the circle as Chelsea White took over for starter Alli Burdette with one out.
The Phoenix could not stop the bleeding as two consecutive batters were walked to plate a pair of runs to put the scoreboard for UNCG. The Spartans then followed with two straight singles to drive the final two runs to earn the 10-2 run rule victory.
Burdette (3-4) took the loss for Elon after going 4.1 innings and gave up nine runs on 11 hits. The Phoenix had four hits as a team, but left seven runners on base while striking out seven times.
UNCG 10, Elon 8
Elon plated the first run of the game in the top of the first. Three out of the first four batters were walked, loading the bases for the Phoenix. Aly Quintana drew her 11th hit by pitch of the season to drive in Emily Cameron. A sacrifice fly by Amanda Allen pushed the Phoenix’s lead to 2-0 at the end of the first.
That lead did not last as UNCG exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the first. A three-run home run by Katleyn Bedwell started the run while a few Elon miscues led to the other four runs being score by the Spartans. The Phoenix induced the final out on a fielder’s choice, but left the frame facing a 7-2 deficit going to the top of the second.
Elon answered with two runs in the top of the second to bring the Phoenix within three. Million drew a walk to leadoff the frame before Cameron hit her eighth homer of the season to left to close the gap 7-4. The Phoenix could not manufacture another run as the game moved to the bottom of the second.
Another Elon error in the bottom of the second plated three more runs for the Spartans. Alcala hit a one-out single to the catcher with two on base, but an errant throw that went to right field cleared the bases with Alcala also scoring on the play. UNCG increased its lead to six, 10-4, after two innings.
In the top of the fifth, back-to-back homers by Nester and Emily Roper trimmed UNCG’s lead to four. Nester hit her 15th homer of the season on a one-out solo shot to left center, breaking Tomeka Watson’s (2010-13) previous program record for a single-season. Roper followed with another solo shot to right center to bring the Phoenix within four, 10-6.
The Phoenix plated two more runs in the top of the sixth to pull even closer to the Spartans. A few errors by UNCG gave the Phoenix runners at the corners with Ali Ford manning third and Million on first. A two-out sacrifice fly to left field by Cameron drove in Ford followed by a double to right center by Alaina Hall that scored Million pulled the Phoenix within two, 10-8. Elon had the tying run at the plate as Hall advanced to third on the throw, but the batter popped up to end the inning.
Elon had one final chance in the top of the seventh after Amanda Allen and Ali Ford drew two out walks. UNCG forced the final batter to groundout to end the game and escape with the 10-8 win.
Caitlin O’Shea (8-14) received the loss after she gave up 10 runs, three earned, on 12 hits. Five different players each recorded a hit for the maroon and gold.