GREENSBORO, N.C – The Elon University softball team saw its season come to an end with a 4-2 setback at the hands of UNCG at the 2014 Southern Conference Softball Championships on Thursday, May. The defeated dropped the Phoenix to 24-29-1 while UNCG improved to 28-25.
The Phoenix outhit the Spartans 11-8, but also left 14 runners on base in the contest. Senior Ali Ford went 3-for-4 at the plate to lead the maroon and gold while Grace Eng had a pair of hits and a RBI. Freshman Carey Million had the lone other RBI for Elon.
Elon fell behind early in the top of the first. UNCG’s leadoff batter drew a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch to put the Spartans into immediate scoring position. Lindsay Thomas drove her in with a two-run home run to right center as UNCG took the early 2-0 lead. Two more runners would reach base for the Spartans, but the Phoenix was able to escape the inning.
The Phoenix attempted to respond in the bottom of the first. Carleigh Nester drew a walk and was moved to second after Alaina Hall reached on a chopper single up the middle. The base runners would be stranded as UNCG induced the next three outs to get out of the opening inning.
UNCG plated its third and fourth runs of the game in the following inning. Tory Wright doubled to begin the top of the second before being replaced by pinch runner Emily Lopez. A sacrifice bunt by Allison Geiner moved her to third before she scored on a passed ball. After Elon recorded the second out of the inning, Lindsay Thomas added her second homer of the contest on a solo shot to left field to give the Spartans a 4-0 lead.
A single to left field by Million plated to first score of the game for Elon. Eng reached on a one-out free pass and advanced to second after a wild pitch. She would move to third on a bloop single to center by Lauren Oldham. Million then sent a line drive to right to bring Eng across the plate to trim the Phoenix’s deficit to three, 4-1.
Elon had runners on the corners with two outs in the bottom of the third with the tying run at the plate. Johanna Spencer drew a walk and moved to third after a single by Ford. Eng battled with a 10-pitch at bat, but a deep fly ball to left center ended the threat.
The Phoenix had another chance in the bottom of the fourth to plate runs on the board with two outs. Nester singled to center field and moved to second on single up the middle by Hall. An error by the third baseman on Aly Quintana’s at bat loaded the bases, but Elon popped up to end the inning.
The Phoenix closed the gap in the bottom of the fifth. Eng singled through the right side of the infield, scoring Spencer who had reached earlier on a single through the left side. The run brought the maroon and gold within two, 4-2, and placed runners on first and second. UNCG went with a pitching change and recorded the final three outs to escape the inning.
UNCG nearly plated an insurance run in the top of the sixth frame. Tatiana Alcala singled through the right side to lead off the inning and stole second to move into scoring position. A squeeze play moved her to third. Alcala attempted to score on a fielder’s choice by Geiner, but Emily Cameron would throw her out at home. A grounder to the shortstop would end the frame and keep the Phoenix within two, 4-2.
Elon had a final chance in the bottom of the seventh. The Phoenix started the inning strong with back-to-back lead off singles by Ford and Eng with the pair advancing to scoring position after a grounder to third. The pair would be stranded however as the UNCG pulled out with the 4-2 win.
Caitlin O’Shea (8-15) took the loss for the Phoenix despite pitching effectively in her 7.0 innings. She gave up four runs on eight hits, but did not allow a run after the second inning.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E UNCG 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 4 8 1 Elon 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 2 11 1
Win – Hanks (14-16). Loss – O’Shea (8-15). Save – None.
Umpires – HP: Randy Burgess 1B: Jeff Blanken 2B: Donny Teague
Start: 11:30 am Time: 2:20 Attendance: 197
Weather: Sunny in the low 70s