ELON, N.C. – The Elon University softball team will look to extend its six-game win streak this weekend, as the Phoenix hosts its first true home tournament of the year, the Elon Softball Tournament, beginning on Friday, March 6 through Sunday, March 8.
The maroon and gold welcomes the field of Central Connecticut State, Hampton and Lafayette to Hunt Softball Park. Elon kicks off the tournament with a 3:30 p.m. contest against Lafayette on Friday, March 6, and will play a total of four games over the weekend.
Fans can follow the Phoenix at the tournament via live stats by going to the Elon softball schedule page at elonphoenix.com. Twitter updates will also be provided the handle @ElonScores or @ElonUSoftball.
Among the teams taking part in the tournament this weekend, Elon has only faced Hampton in previous seasons. The Phoenix and the Lady Pirates last met in 2013 during the Phoenix Clash Tournament with the maroon and gold winning 8-2. Tomeka Watson (2010-13) tied an NCAA Division I softball record with a home run in her sixth consecutive game in that contest while then-freshman Kayla Caruso earned the complete-game win.
Last Time Out
The Phoenix earned a 3-2 victory over reigning Atlantic Coast Conference tournament champion NC State on Wednesday, March 4. The win was Elon’s first over the Wolfpack since 2012 and its second overall win over an ACC opponent this year. Sophomore Alaina Hall led the maroon and gold at the plate with a 3-for-3 performance while junior Emily Cameron went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI. Freshman Kiandra Mitchum picked up her second straight win after pitching four innings and allowed only two runs with three strikeouts while Caruso recorded the save in three scoreless innings in relief.
Scouting the Phoenix
Elon’s victory over NC State extended its win streak to six, one shy of its all-time Division I program-record. The Phoenix is also undefeated at home so far on the season with a record of 5-0 at Hunt Softball Park.
During its six-game win streak, Elon is hitting .277 while holding opponents to a .200 average. The Phoenix is also outscoring opponents, 26-12, during that stretch. Elon has also attacked the opposition early with 14 runs coming in the first two innings over that time frame.
The Phoenix increased its season average to .268 after last night’s win and has four starters hitting over .300. Freshman Hannah Olson continues to lead the way at a .432 clip. Over the last six games, Olson is hitting .562 (9-for-16) with three runs, two RBI and a double.
Elon’s pitching staff has also been lights out over the six-game win streak with a total ERA of 1.50. Four of its five players used over the stretch have an ERA of 1.56 or lower and two with an ERA less than one. Caruso’s save against the Wolfpack gave the Phoenix five on the year, which ties the mark for the most in a single season in school history.
Scouting the Field
Central Connecticut State (29-16 in 2014)
The Blue Devils are making their season-debut this weekend after being a victim of unfriendly weather during most of the year. A member of the Northeast Conference (NEC), CCSU was tabbed to win the league in the 2015 NEC Preseason Poll.
CCSU returns 17 players from its team a year ago including NEC Pitcher of the Year Laura Messina. Messina was named to the 2015 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Watch List and was ranked as the eight-best pitcher by in the nation by Fast Pitch News.
The Lady Pirates’ schedule has also been affected by the weather with the team being idle since Feb. 8. Hampton opened the year at the USF Under Armour Invitational in Tampa, Fla., where it faced a tough field including No. 1 Florida and No. 8 Michigan.
Hampton went 25-17 a year ago and was chosen as the co-champions of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) North Division in the league’s 2015 Preseason Poll. The Lady Pirates are entering their first season under head coach Joe DiPietrio and returns two-time reigning MEAC Pitcher of the Year, Jailynn Jackson.
The Leopards have also been idle since its opening weekend at Coastal Carolina, Feb. 6-8, due to weather. A member of the Patriots League, Lafayette was tabbed to finish sixth in the league this year.
Second-year head coach Jexx Varner is at the helm of the Leopards softball program. The team is hitting only .129 on the young season with Jenna Didio leading the way with a .286 average. Junior Bryn Gornick is the team’s top returning run-producer with 16 RBI. She also posted a team-best ERA of 3.32 in her 44 innings last season.
Elon takes its first true road contest of the season on March 11 as the Phoenix travels to Charlotte for a matchup with the 49ers. That game is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.