ELON, N.C. – The Elon University softball team heads to Orlando, Fla., to compete in its first tournament of the season, the 2017 Diamond 9 Citrus Classic hosted at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on Feb. 24-26. The Phoenix will face a challenging slate of games at the five-game tournament with matchups versus Georgia Southern, No. 3/3 Florida, Fordham, Syracuse and an exhibition versus the Czech Republic National Team.
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. Audio for the Phoenix’s contests versus Florida and Fordham will be available free of charge from those respective schools.
Versus the Field
Georgia Southern: Elon will open the tournament on Friday, Feb. 24, versus former conference opponent Georgia Southern at 11 a.m. The meeting will be the 41st all-time on the softball diamond between the two schools and the first since the 2014 season. The Eagles hold a commanding 29-11 advantage over the maroon and gold and have won 10 straight in the series. Elon last defeated Georgia Southern in 2011.
Florida: The Phoenix will face the third-ranked Gators for only the second time all-time on Saturday, Feb. 25, at 1:15 p.m. Elon played then No. 1 Florida at the Citrus Classic a season ago and fell to the Gators in a highly competitive game, 3-1. Elon held the Gators to its lowest run and hit total of the season at the time while getting an RBI from Emily Roper in the sixth inning. The Phoenix also posted seven hits versus the Gators with Alaina Hall going 3-for-3 in the game.
Fordham: Elon and Fordham will also square off for the second time on Saturday versus each other with the last meeting coming in 2005 at the Bethune-Cookman Spring Break Classic. The Phoenix won that contest by a score of 10-2.
Syracuse: Elon faces Syracuse for the fourth time in program history on Sunday, Feb. 26, at 9:30 a.m. in its final collegiate contest of the tournament. The Orange holds a 2-1 advantage all-time versus the maroon and gold in a series dating to 2007. The two programs last met in 2014 at Hunt Softball Park with Syracuse pulling out a 5-0 victory to snap the Phoenix’s Division I program-record tying seven-game winning streak.
Leading Off for Elon
• Elon won its fourth game out of its last five on Tuesday, Feb. 21, with a 11-3 victory over Campbell. The win improved the Phoenix to 7-2 overall on the season, matching its best nine-game start to a season since 2012.
• The Phoenix tallied a season-high 11 base hits versus the Camels along with 10 RBI, also a season-best. Of the ten players that recorded at least one at bat, nine plated a hit for Elon.
• Alaina Hall went 1-for-3 versus Campbell to hit safely in her fifth straight game. The Suwanee, Ga., native is closing in on breaking into the program’s top-10 career list in hits as she sits on 184 in her career.
• When it outhits the opponent, Elon is a perfect 6-0 in those contests. The Phoenix has also been able to hold on to its leads late in games posting a 5-1 ledger when leading after the sixth inning.
• Elon sits on 887 victories as a program all-time with its win versus Campbell on Tuesday. Recently, the program surpassed the 700-win plateau during the fast pitch era (since 1990) last Saturday versus North Carolina Central.
• All-time, Elon has recorded two top-10 victories with both coming under Phoenix head coach Kathy Bocock. In 2013, the Phoenix defeated then No. 8 Georgia, 5-2, in Athens on Feb. 8, and notched its highest ranked win ever last season with a 5-4 victory over No. 6 James Madison on April 30, in 15 innings.
Scouting the Phoenix
On the season, the Phoenix is hitting .328 as a team which is third in the Colonial Athletic Association. Elon is second in the league with 53 runs scored with the maroon and gold doing the most damage in the sixth inning with 15 runs plated. The Phoenix is also second in the CAA in doubles (14), RBI (49) and slugging percentage (.472).
Hall paces the team with her .414 average, one of three players in the Phoenix’s regular lineup that’s hitting better than .400 in the batter’s box. Carey Million is leading the CAA with her 10 RBI and is second on the squad with a .409 average. Kara Shutt is third on the team with her .400 clip at the plate.
During the early portion of the year, Elon has gone with a three-person staff in the circle. The trio has posted a 2.97 ERA on the young season good for fourth in the league. Rookie Kenna Quinn and junior Kiandra Mitchum have split the starts for the Phoenix with Quinn leading the squad with 25.2 innings pitched and a 1.36 ERA. Mitchum has a 3.50 ERA in 24.0 innings of action with both Mitchum and Quinn accounting for six of the team’s seven-win total.
Scouting the Eagles
Members of the Sun Belt Conference since 2015, Georgia Southern is 3-6 this season after coming off competing at the LSU Purple and Gold Challenge last weekend, Feb. 17-19. In the 2017 Sun Belt Preseason Poll, Georgia Southern was tabbed to finish fifth by the league coaches.
The Eagles are hitting only .196 as a team with 14 different players having at least one at bat. Among players with 10 or more at bats, Mekhia Freeman leads the team with her .313 average while Emily Snider has been the main run producer for Georgia Southern with team-highs in home runs (three) and RBI (eight).
Georgia Southern’s pitching staff has posted a cumulative ERA of 5.50 with five players toeing the rubber this season. Dixie Raley heads the pitching staff with her 4.30 ERA and 2-4 ledger in 27.2 innings pitched.
Scouting No. 3/3 Florida
The third-ranked Gators are 10-1 on the season and sits at No. 3 both the latest USA Today/NFCA Coaches and ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 polls. Florida played last week at its home tournament at the Aquafina Invitational on Feb. 17-19 where it suffered its lone blemish of the year to Maryland, 4-2, on Saturday.
Selected as the 2017 Southeastern Conference Preseason favorite, Florida returned four 2016 NFCA All-Americans after coming off a 56-7 ledger. A total of 14 letterwinners return from that squad including pitcher Delanie Gourley, first baseman Kayli Kvistad and outfielder Amanda Lorenz, who were all selected to the 2017 All-SEC Preseason Team. This year, Kvistad leads the team with her .500 average and 12 hits as the Gators are hitting .318 as a squad.
In the circle, Florida has a 0.86 ERA with 111 strikeouts. Gourley has posted a 4-1 record with a 1.15 ERA while Kelly Barnhill leads the team with a 0.25 ERA in her 27.2 innings of action.
Fordham is 7-3 on the 2017 season after competing at the Pirate Class at East Carolina last weekend. The Rams went 3-2 at the tournament, but closed out the weekend with a 16-0 defeat versus Bryant on Sunday. Coming off a 39-21 record in 2016 which included a trip to the NCAA Tournament, Fordham was selected to defend its Atlantic-10 title in the league’s 2017 preseason poll.
The Rams are hitting .278 as a team with Madison Shaw leading the way with her .444 average. Jessica Hughes is next with her .391 effort in the batter’s box and has a team-high four home runs and eight RBI.
Lauren Quense is a perfect 6-0 this season to lead the Rams in the circle with a 1.11 ERA in 38.0 innings. The senior pitched a no-hitter in the Rams’ recent contest versus Bryant on Sunday as Fordham has a 2.55 ERA as a team.
Sitting at 6-3 on the season, the Orange heads into the weekend after going 3-1 at the FAU Tournament on Feb. 17-18. Syracuse’s lone defeat came against Tulsa on Saturday, 3-2, but the Orange has won five out of its last six games. Coming off a 27-26 record in 2016 including a 9-14 record during Atlantic Coast Conference play, the Orange was selected to finish seventh in the 2017 ACC Preseason Poll.
Offensively, Syracuse is hitting .265 as a team with three regulars hitting better than .300 in its lineup. Bryce Holmgren has a team-high .500 average and seven RBI while Sammy Fernandez has a team-best 16 hits and is second in average at .432.
Four players have started at least one game for the Orange with Alexa Romero being the main workhorse early in the 2017 campaign. Romero leads the team with a 3-1 record, 1.70 ERA and 24.2 innings pitched. Overall, Syracuse has posted a 2.89 ERA with 58 strikeouts.
The Phoenix returns to Hunt Softball Park to host its first tournament of the year, the Elon Softball Tournament. The maroon and gold welcomes the field of Wagner, Iona and Saint Joseph’s to Elon on March 3-6.