ELON, N.C. – Coming off a 3-0 weekend to open the season, the Elon University softball team travels to in-state rival and Atlantic Coast Conference opponent North Carolina for its first road contest of 2017 on Wednesday, Feb. 15. First pitch against the Tar Heels is slated for 4 p.m. at Anderson Stadium.
Follow the Phoenix
Fans can keep up with the action of the Phoenix all season via live stats from the program’s schedule page at elonphoenix.com. Updates will also be provided on Twitter on @elonscores or the program’s handle, @ElonUSoftball. The game will be streamed via the ACC Network Extra which can be found on the Watch ESPN app and ESPN3.
Inside the Series
Wednesday’s contest will be the 31st meeting between the Phoenix and the Tar Heels during the fastpitch level. UNC has dominated the series with a 27-2-1 record overall versus the maroon and gold and has won six straight and 16 of the last 17. Last year, Elon plated its highest run total versus North Carolina, but saw an early lead evaporate in the later innings as the Phoenix fell to the Tar Heels, 12-6, at Hunt Softball Park.
Leading Off for Elon
• Elon got off to a great start for the 2017 season, winning all three of its games last weekend versus Hampton. In the highly competitive series, the Phoenix outscored the Lady Pirates 13-8 and won by no more than two runs in each game.
• Freshman Kenna Quinn had a strong collegiate debut in the circle as the Boiling Springs, S.C., native had a complete-game shutout in the Phoenix’s 2-0 victory over Hampton in game one of its twin bill last Saturday, Feb. 11. Quinn had five strikeouts in the game and allowed only three hits.
• Senior Emily Roper belted her 21st career home run in the Phoenix’s season-opener, moving her into a tie for seventh all-time in school history with Emerald Graham (2010-11). Roper also had three RBI over the weekend, giving her 97 for her career and sole possession of sixth place in school history.
• UNC is the first of six ACC schools that the Phoenix will face on its schedule this season and first of two this week. Elon will host Virginia in doubleheader on Sunday, Feb. 19.
• The three wins over the weekend gave Phoenix sixth-year head coach Kathy Bocock 129 victories at Elon and 366 over her career. The Phoenix also sit on 699 victories as a program at the fastpitch level.
Scouting the Phoenix
As a team, Elon is hitting .338 and have seven players batting north of .300 during the early portion of the season. Among regulars, Kara Shutt has the highest average at .455 (5-for-11) while Roper and Callie Horn are next at .429. Roper is also contributing with a 1.000 slugging percentage. Seven different players have driven in a run with Roper and Kristin Hoover leading the team with three each.
Quinn and junior Kiandra Mitchum are tied for the team-lead with 9.2 innings pitched each. So far on the young season, Quinn has a 0.00 ERA with six strikeouts and a 2-0 record. Mitchum has a 2.90 ERA while going 1-0 with a team-best nine fanned batters. As a staff, the Phoenix hurlers have a cumulative ERA of 2.67.
Scouting the Tar Heels
North Carolina enters the midweek matchup with a 2-3 record after playing in Puerto Rico to begin the season last weekend. The Tar Heels lost its first three games of the Puerto Rico DI Tournament before earning back-to-back victories to close out the tournament over California and Georgia Tech.
Coming off a 32-25 campaign in 2016 which included a trip to the NCAA Tournament, the Tar Heels were selected to finish fourth in the 2017 ACC Preseason Poll. UNC returned eight players with playing time from a season ago while implementing 10 rookies into the fold. As a team, the Tar Heels are batting .250 with opponents hitting .294. Taylor Wike is one of four players hitting .300 or better with her team-best .400 average. She also is tied for the team-lead with four RBI along with Kendra Lynch, who had UNC’s two lone homers on the year.
In the circle, three players have seen near equal time toeing the rubber for the Tar Heels. Lynch has a team-low 2.62 ERA in her 8.0 while Brittany Pickett (9.0 IP) and Sydney Matzko (8.0 IP) are tied with a team-best sixth strikeouts. As a staff, UNC has a 5.47 ERA overall in 32.0 overall innings.
Elon is back at home to host North Carolina Central in a doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 18, at 12 p.m. The Phoenix then host Virginia in another twin bill the following day, Feb. 19, with the opening pitch also scheduled for noon.