ELON, N.C. – Coming off its huge victory over North Carolina on Wednesday, the Elon University softball team looks to continue to push its momentum into the weekend as the Phoenix hosts its annual tournament, the Elon Softball Tournament, beginning on Friday, Feb. 16, through Sunday, Feb. 18.
Elon welcomes the field of Bowling Green, Mount St. Mary’s, North Texas and Rhode Island to Hunt Softball Park. The Phoenix’s first games of the tournament will begin on Friday, with its matchup versus Bowling Green at 2:30 p.m. Full schedule of the 2018 Elon Softball Tournament can be found here.
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. Live stats for all games will provided this weekend for fans to follow.
Inside the Series: The Field
Elon has faced three of the four teams in the field in previous years on the softball diamond with North Texas being the newest opponent. Elon has faced Bowling Green and Mount St. Mary’s once with the Phoenix winning each of those contests. Rhode Island holds a 2-0 series record over the maroon and gold and is the most recent opponent that Elon has faced with both squads squaring off in 2012.
Last Time Out
Behind a couple of clutch hits and solid pitching down the stretch, Elon earned a 2-1 victory versus the University of North Carolina on Wednesday, Feb. 14. The win for the Phoenix was its first over the Tar Heels since 2010 and snapped a seven-game losing streak.
Elon scored its lone runs of the game in the bottom of the second inning. Down to two outs and a runner at first, Kara 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 Hannah Olson’s RBI single through the left side of the infield.
A Phoenix miscue led to the Tar Heels adding its run of the game in the top half of the fourth, trimming Elon’s lead to one, 2-1. 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. Abby Barker, pitching in relief of starter Kiandra Mitchum, set UNC down in order to earn the save and preserve the Phoenix’s 2-1 victory.
Around the Horn
• As a team, the Phoenix is batting .248 through its five games with 35 hits, 17 runs scored and 14 RBI. Elon also currently leads the Colonial Athletic Association in doubles with eight.
• Kristin Hoover leads the Phoenix with a .412 batting average and is tied for the team-lead in hits (seven) and RBI (three) with Kara Shutt. Shutt paces the squad with her three doubles and six runs scored.
• Speaking of doubles, Shutt plated the 45th of her career versus the Tar Heels and moved into sole possession of fourth all-time in school history. The Greensboro, N.C., native is one double shy of tying Jenny Gustin (2001-04) for third all-time in program history.
• The Elon pitching staff has a cumulative ERA of 2.69 through 39.0 innings of action. The Phoenix hurlers have also struck out 22 batters while walking 15.
• Mitchum leads the team with 14.0 innings pitched and earned her first win of the season versus North Carolina. The Mechanicsville, Va., native has a 2.00 ERA and has nine strikeouts, tying for the team lead with Barker. She also needs one save to become the program’s all-time leader in that category, sharing honors currently with Jen Lamb (2003-04) and Caitlin O’Shea (2012-15).
• Barker is second on the team with 13.1 innings tossed and has a team-low 1.58 ERA and one save. The Granville, Ohio, native has also allowed opponents to bat .143 against her.
• Phoenix head coach Kathy Bocock picked up career victory No. 398 on Wednesday with Elon’s victory over the Tar Heels.
Scouting Bowling Green
The Falcons head into the tournament with a 5-0 record after going undefeated at the CSU Dome Tournament in Cleveland last weekend. The 5-0 start is the best for BGSU in 12 seasons since 2006. Picked to finish fifth in the East Division of the 2018 Mid-Atlantic Conference (MAC) Preseason poll, the Falcons are hitting .382 on the season with reigning MAC Player of the Week Aspen Searle leading the way among the team regulars with a .647 average while Kali Holcomb has driven in a team-high 11 runs. Reigning MAC Pitcher of the Week Meredith Miller heads a Falcons pitching staff that has a 0.62 ERA as a squad. Miller is 3-0 this season with a 0.00 ERA through 20 innings.
Scouting Mount St. Mary’s
Mount St. Mary’s opens the 2018 season this weekend. Coming off a 20-31 season in 2017 including a 5-11 mark in the Northeast Conference, the Mountaineers were selected to finish eighth in the 2018 Northeast Conference Preseason poll. Among the notable returners for Mount St. Mary’s includes first team All-NEC selection Lindsay Heinze and senior Morgan Alisauckas. Heinze hit .342 with 17 doubles, six home runs and 37 RBI last season while Alisauckas hit .344 with four home runs and 32 RBI.
Scouting North Texas
The Mean Green enters the tournament with a 1-2 record after coming off its season-opening trip at the Mardi Gras Classic in Monroe, La. Coming off a 25-31 campaign last season, North Texas was picked to finish eighth in the 2018 Conference USA Preseason poll. On the young season, the Mean Green are batting .309 with 19 runs scored and 18 RBI. Sophomore Lacy Gregory, a selection to the 2018 C-USA Preseason All-Conference Team, leads the team with a .700 average with a pair of doubles, two home runs and 12 RBI. North Texas’s pitching staff has a 5.12 team ERA through 19.1 innings this season with 12 strikeouts and nine walks.
Scouting Rhode Island
The Rams will also make their season debut this weekend after coming off a 11-33 record in 2017. Rhode Island was chosen to finish eighth in the 2018 Atlantic 10 Preseason poll as head coach Bridget Hurlman enters her third season at the helm of the program. Among the top players returning this season for the Rams includes senior Kylie Shivery, who batted .343 last season with six home runs and 31 RBI. Sophomore Sarah Gunderson is the top returning pitcher for Rhode Island after leading the team in wins (six), ERA (4.97), innings pitched (112.2), complete games (seven) and saves (two).
Elon takes its first trip away from Hunt Softball Park this season as the maroon and gold heads to Raleigh, N.C., for a midweek contest at NC State on Wednesday, Feb. 21. Game time for that contest is scheduled for 4 p.m.