ELON, N.C. – Thanks to a couple of clutch hits and some solid pitching down the stretch, the Elon University softball team defeated North Carolina in a midweek contest on Wednesday evening, Feb. 14, by a score of 2-1 at Hunt Softball Park.
The victory snapped the Phoenix’s (3-2) seven-game losing streak to the Tar Heels (3-2), winning for the first time over UNC since the 2010 season. The win was only the third all-time for Elon in its series against the Tar Heels during its fastpitch era dating back to 1990.
“I have all kinds of respect for (UNC head coach) Donna Papa and her program,” said Elon head coach Kathy Bocock. “For us to get a big win tonight against them is huge for this program. Our players played hard and stayed focus throughout the contest and it resulted in a win versus a tough ACC school.”
At the Plate: Elon outhit the Tar Heels, 7-4, at the plate with Hannah Olson (2-for-3) having the only multi-hit performance for the Phoenix…Olson also drove in an RBI along with Kara Shutt, who was 1-for-3 with a run scored and a double…Shutt’s double gives her 45 in her career and just one shy of tying Jenny Gustin (2001-04) for third all-time in program history.
In the Circle: Starter Kiandra Mitchum (1-0) pitched 4.0 innings to earn her first win of the season…The lefty allowed four hits and one run, unearned, and struck out four batters…Abby Barker received the save for the Phoenix after pitching 3.0 scoreless frames in relief and fanning two batters.
Elon struck first with its lone runs of the game in the bottom of the second. Down to two outs and a runner at first, Shutt drove in Tia Mitchell on an RBI double down the right field line to plate the first run of the contest. Shutt would advance to third on an attempted throw to home and later crossed home plate herself on Olson’s RBI single through the left side of the infield. A passed ball moved Olson into scoring position, but a strikeout left her stranded.
The Tar Heels answered in the top half of the fourth thanks to an Elon miscue. A bunt single with one out gave North Carolina runners at first and second putting the tying runs on base. A fly out on the next at bat resulted in the Phoenix getting the second out of the frame, but an errant throw attempting to throw a runner out at third allowed the Tar Heels to score a run and trim Elon’s lead to 1-0. Elon escaped the jam as Mitchum struck out the next batter to close the frame.
Neither team was able to plate a run in the fifth and sixth innings as the game moved to the seventh with Elon clinging to its one-run advantage. The Tar Heels would look for the chance to tie or take the lead with its ninth batter leading off the frame before the turn of the lineup. Barker however pitched a 1-2-3 inning to seal Elon’s first victory over UNC since 2010
Elon hosts its annual softball tournament this weekend, Feb. 16-18, as the Phoenix welcomes the field of Bowling Green, Mount St. Mary’s, North Texas and Rhode Island to Hunt Softball Park. The Phoenix’s first game of the tournament versus Bowling Green is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 16, at 2:30 p.m.