ELON, N.C. – Entering its first-ever Colonial Athletic Association Softball Championship tournament, the No. 3-seeded Elon University softball team opens the league tournament against the No. 2 seed, Hofstra, on Wednesday, May 6, at 3 p.m. in Harrisonburg, Va., at James Madison’s Veterans Memorial Park.
Fans can follow the Phoenix this weekend 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. All games of the tournament will be broadcast live and for free online via CAA.tv.
CAA Softball Championships
The double-elimination tournament, which runs May 6-8, will earn the champion an automatic berth in the 64-team NCAA Tournament field. Following the opening-round games on Wednesday, the opening-round winners play at noon on Thursday for a spot in the championship game, followed by an elimination game between the two first-round losers at 2:30 p.m.
At 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, the winner of the elimination game faces the loser from the winner’s bracket contest. The conference title game is set for noon on Friday, with a second game to follow if necessary. Fans can watch the title game on the American Sports Network at 5:00 p.m.
The Phoenix (30-20, 11-10 CAA) and the Pride (34-11-1, 14-3 CAA) are two of the teams that make of the four-team field of the league’s softball championships. Host and defending champion JMU (44-6, 19-0 CAA), the No. 1 seed, opens the tournament versus fourth-seeded Towson (35-20, 10-11 CAA) at noon on Wednesday.
The Dukes, who have won 35 straight games and are currently ranked No. 19 in the latest NFCA Poll, earned the No. 1 seed thanks to a perfect 19-0 record in conference play. The Pride, who have reached the NCAA Tournament each of the last three seasons, enter the championship having won nine straight games overall. Hofstra’s only three loses in conference play came against the Dukes (twice) and Elon. Towson reaches the championship field for the third straight season.
The Phoenix and the Pride met each other on the softball diamond for the first time this season in a three-game series at Hofstra on April 18-19. The Pride won the first two games to take the series on Saturday, but Elon closed out the weekend with a 5-2 victory over the Pride behind a three-run top of the seventh inning as the Phoenix handed Hofstra its third league loss of the year.
Last Time Out
The Phoenix clinched the No. 3 seed for the CAA Championships thanks to a sweep of in-state conference foe UNCW last weekend, May 1-2, at Hunt Softball Park. Elon opened the weekend with a 5-3 win over the Seahawks then earned the series with a 6-3 victory in the second game. In the series finale, the maroon and gold overcame a early 3-0 deficit to earn a 4-3 walk-off win behind a solo home run by sophomore Carey Million in the eighth inning.
Scouting the Phoenix (30-20, 11-10 CAA)
Thanks to a four-game win streak to close out the regular-season, Elon has posted its first 30-win season since the 2011 campaign and has its highest winning percentage (.600) since 2010. The Phoenix’s 11-10 mark in league play is also the maroon and gold’s first winning slate in conference play since 2011 when it was a member of the Southern Conference.
Junior pitcher Kayla Caruso and freshman outfielder Kara Shutt earned a couple CAA weekly accolades on Monday after helping the Phoenix to a 4-0 record last week. Caruso was named the CAA Co-Pitcher of the Week, receiving her first career weekly conference accolade after the Kennesaw, Ga., native went 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA in her 10.0 innings. Caruso improved her overall record to 12-4 on the year, the most wins by an Elon pitcher since 2012.
Shutt earned her second CAA weekly honor this season as the Greensboro, N.C., native was awarded as the league’s Co-Rookie of the Week. Shutt batted .500 (6-for-12) and scored six runs, drove in eight RBI and had a home run and a double. Against North Carolina A&T, Shutt drove in a season-high five RBI against the Aggies while going 3-for-3 with two runs. Shutt’s 39 RBI are the most for an Elon freshman at the Division I level and the seventh-best single season performance in school history.
Offensively, Elon is hitting .262 on the year with three players hitting .300 or better in Alaina Hall (.360), Shutt (.338) and Hannah Olson (.338). Hall has hit a blistering .418 during CAA play, the only Phoenix batter hitting north of .300 in league play.
In the circle, the Phoenix will look to continue to use its depth as six pitchers have seen time throughout the year. Along with Caruso, every Elon pitcher who has throw an inning this year has an ERA lower than four and four with at least one save.
Scouting Hofstra (34-11-1, 14-3 CAA)
The Pride has not lost a game since that setback to the Phoenix, riding a nine-game win streak into the league championships. Hofstra closed out its regular-season with a sweep at College of Charleston last weekend.
On the year, the Pride is hitting .290 and has four players hitting better than .300. Caryn Bailey leads the squad with her .381 average along with 12 homers and 44 RBI while six other players have at least 20 or more RBI on the year.
Hofstra has relied mostly on the duo of Morgan Lashley and Taylor Pirone in the circle. Lashley has a 19-1 record on the year with a 1.81 ERA while Pirone, who shared the CAA Pitcher of the Week accolades with Caruso on Monday, is 15-10 with a 1.96 ERA.
With a win, Elon plays at noon on Thursday, May 7, between the JMU-Towson winner for a spot in the championship game while a loss puts the Phoenix in the elimination bracket and a game at 2:30 p.m.