Elon Softball Phoenix Treks to Florida for Citrus Classic, Faces No. 1 Florida

ELON, N.C. – For the second straight weekend, the Elon University softball team heads to another early-season tournament, the Citrus Classic, in Orlando, Fla. The Phoenix will compete in five games at the tournament including a meeting versus No. 1 and two-time defending NCAA national champion Florida along with games versus Stephen F. Austin, No. 13 Missouri, Omaha and Jacksonville State starting on Friday, Feb. 19.


Friday, Feb. 19

vs. Stephen F. Austin: 1:15 p.m.

vs. No. 13 Missouri: 5:45 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 20

vs. Omaha: 11 a.m.

vs. No. 1 Florida: 3:30 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 21

vs. Jacksonville State: 10 a.m.

Live Coverage

Fans can follow the Phoenix via live stats over the weekend at the tournament. Updates will also be provided on Twitter at @elonscores and at the program’s handle @ElonUSoftball.

Series Histories

Heading into the weekend, Elon has only faced Jacksonville State on the softball diamond in past seasons. The Phoenix and the Gamecocks squared off versus each other last year at the Citrus Classic with Elon earning a 1-0 victory in a pitcher’s duel. Kayla Caruso struck out for batters in her 4.2 scoreless innings for the Phoenix in the win.

Leading Off For Elon

• The Phoenix will face its second and third ranked opponent on the year when it faces No. 13 Missouri and No. 1 Florida this weekend. Elon opened the year last weekend with a pair of games at No. 12 Georgia.

• This is also the first time that an Elon program has faced the No. 1 team in the country since the men’s soccer team faced No. 1 UCLA in the NCAA Tournament in 2013.

• Eight players are hitting better than .300 among the Phoenix regulars. On the season, Elon is batting .394 on the season through its first five games.

• Elon has plated 44 runs in its three victories on the season while holding its opponents to seven. The Phoenix has also outhit the opposition 44-9 in those three wins.

• Sophomore outfielder Kara Shutt is picking up where she left off last season as the Greensboro, N.C., native is batting a team-best .647 (11-for-17) on the year. She also has eight RBI, four doubles, a triple and has a blistering 1.000 slugging percentage.

• Phoenix head coach Kathy Bocock earned her 340th career win on Wednesday, Feb. 17, in Elon’s 14-4 win over North Carolina A&T.

Last Time Out

Elon earned a win in its home opener with a 14-4 triumph over local Triad rival North Carolina A&T. Sophomore Kristin Hoover had a team-best five RBI in the contest including the grand slam walk-off in the sixth. Shutt, Carey Million and Erica Serafini each led the way with three hits each with Serafini also providing three RBI. Junior Alaina Hall also homered in the contest while Caruso earned her second win of the season in the circle.

Scouting the Phoenix

Shutt continues her torrid start on the season and was honored as the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Week on Tuesday, Feb. 16. She currently leads the league in hits (11), doubles (four), batting average (.647) and is one of three Phoenix’s in the top four in slugging percentage (1.000).

Collectively, Elon is hitting .394 with 11 doubles, 48 runs, five triples and 46 RBI with the Phoenix pacing the CAA in each of those categories. The maroon and gold also has a .654 slugging percentage with five stolen bases out of six attempts. The Phoenix also has yet to play a full game this season.

Scouting the field

Stephen F. Austin: The Ladyjacks are 3-2 on the young season after coming off an 11-0 loss at No. 13 Florida State on Wednesday. SFA, who was picked to finished ninth in the 2016 Southland Preseason Poll, returns nine of 11 starters and all its pitchers from a team that went 19-32 overall and 11-15 during league play in 2015. Among the returners include junior pitcher Brittany Lewis who was selected to the 2016 Preseason All-Southland First Team. In its five games, the Ladyjacks are hitting .244 with 19 runs and 17 RBI while two players are hitting better than .300. The SFA pitching staff has a 3.00 ERA with a pair of shutouts while giving up a .287 average.

Missouri: The Tigers earned their seventh NCAA Regional Championship under head coach Ehren Earleywine last season after hitting .320 as a team and driving in 355 RBI as Mizzou went 42-16. In the 2016 SEC Preseason Poll, the Tigers were tabbed to finish seventh overall as Mizzou welcomes back six starters and all three pitchers from last season. The three hurlers had a combined 3.15 ERA and nearly a strikeout an inning (343 strikeouts in 373.0 innings pitched). The duo of Paige Lowary and Tori Finucane returns to the circle for Missouri.

Omaha: A member of the Summit League, the Mavs are coming off a 22-28 season a year ago with a 6-10 ledger during conference play. Tabbed to picked fourth in the 2016 Summit League Preseason Poll, Omaha went 3-2 in its opening weekend at the Hillenbrand Invitational in Tucson, Ariz. The Mavs earned wins over UC Santa Barbara, Purdue and Southern Utah at the tournament, but suffered defeats at the hands of North Texas and No. 13 Arizona. On the year, the Mavs are hitting .281 with 39 runs, 36 RBI and 11 home runs. Three players are hitting .300 or better among Omaha’s regulars with Sydney Hames leading the way with her .500 average.

Florida: The two-time defending NCAA champion and No. 1 ranked Gators is coming off a week where they earned a win against No. 2 Michigan and were voted first in both the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 and ASA/USA Today Top 25 polls for the second straight week. Florida, who went 60-7 last season, is currently outscoring its opponents 54-1 and is led by reigning SEC Player of the Year Kelsey Stewart. On the year, the Gators are hitting .383 while holding the opposition to a .093 average. Florida’s pitching staff has posted an ERA of 0.21 in its 6-0 start with 40 strikeouts.

Jacksonville State: The Gamecocks are 2-2 this season and returns eight position players and two pitchers from a team that went 38-17 last year and 18-6 in Ohio Valley play. Chosen to finish second in the OVC 2016 Preseason Poll, the Gamecocks’ Whitney Gillespie is leading the squad with her .385 average with four RBI and is one of four players hitting better than .300 on the season. Overall JSU has scored 29 runs with a .310 average and has 27 RBI with a .478 slugging percentage.

On Deck

Elon heads to Buies Creek, N.C., for a single-game contest at Campbell on Wednesday, Feb. 24. That game is slated for an 3:30 p.m. opening pitch.