ELON, N.C. – Elon University softball head coach Kathy Bocock picked up the 400th win of her career as the Phoenix earned a pair of wins on Friday, Feb. 16, on the opening day of the Elon Softball Tournament. Elon defeated Bowling Green, 4-3, in its opening game before pulling out a 6-2 victory over Rhode Island in the nightcap.
A walk-off RBI double from Erica Serafini helped the Phoenix (5-2) in the win over the Falcons (6-1). A three-run bottom of the sixth inning in the Phoenix’s game versus the Rams (0-2) aided the Phoenix and Bocock to reach the milestone win and their fifth victory in a row.
Game One: Elon 4, Bowling Green 3
Elon jumped out to the early lead in its first game of the day versus Bowling Green, plating a run in the bottom of the first. Kara Shutt led off the frame with a single to center field and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. She crossed home plate thanks to Serafini’s RBI double to put the maroon and gold ahead 1-0.
Bowling Green responded with a two-run top of the second to take the lead. Consecutive one-out doubles led to the Falcons tying the score at one-all before a two-out single up the middle added another run for Bowling Green to move ahead 2-1.
Both teams went scoreless over the next three innings before Elon came back to tie it in the bottom of the sixth. Hannah Olson singled to begin the inning and advanced to scoring position on a one-out walk and a wild pitch. Another walk would load the bags for the Phoenix with Elise Walton providing the game-tying RBI on a pinch-hit single up the middle, scoring Olson. Elon would have a player get tagged out at second on the play however and was induced for the final out on a fly out to center field.
In the top half of the seventh, Bowling Green retook the lead. The Falcons drew a one-out walk before back-to-back singles pushed Bowling Green back in front, 3-2. With two runners on and only one out, the Falcons looked to increase its advantage, but and starter Kiandra Mitchum induced the next two outs on a fielder’s choice and a strikeout to move the game to the home half.
Chances for an Elon rally looked bleak to start the seventh as the Phoenix grounded out on its first two at bats before the turn to the top of the lineup. Shutt drilled a 1-2 pitch back up the middle to give Elon the tying run on base with Olson coming to the plate. The York, Va., native followed with a deep fly ball to the right field wall, enabling Shutt to tie the game and putting the game-winning run in scoring position with the double. Serafini provided the heroics as the Tampa, Fla., native took the first pitch she saw and drilled a double to left center, giving Elon the 4-3 win.
Mitchum (2-0) picked up her second straight win in the complete game performance. The senior lefty allowed seven hits and three runs, but struck out a season-high 10 batters. At the plate, Elon won the edge in the hitting battle over Bowling Green, 8-7, with Shutt, Olson and Serafin combining for six of those hits. Serafini had two doubles and drove in two RBI while Olson also added a double and a RBI to her stat line.
Game Two: Elon 6, Rhode Island 2
Elon’s second game of the day versus Rhode Island had a similar beginning to its last contest versus Bowling Green. The Phoenix again opened the contest with a lead in the bottom of the first as Shutt began the home half with a single and moved to second on a wild pitch. Olson doubled down the left field line on the next at bat, pushing Shutt across home plate for the early 1-0 advantage.
Rhode Island went ahead 2-1 in the top half of the third. After loading the bases on a one-out hit-by-pitch, the Rams drove in a pair of runs on a single through the left side and took the lead from the Phoenix.
Elon’s deficit lasted until the home half of the third frame as the Phoenix tied it at two-all. Olson earned a free pass on a one-out hit-by-pitch before Serafini’s triple to right center brought her in to tie the game. Despite adding another base runner on a walk and having runners at the corners, Elon struck out on the next two at bats to leave the pair stranded going to the fourth.
The Phoenix took control of the game and the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth. Ally Repko drew and leadoff walk and advanced to second on Callie Horn’s sacrifice bunt. Shutt drove in Repko on a two-out double to left center, giving the Phoenix a 3-2 advantage.
After a couple of 1-2-3 innings from Phoenix starter Abby Barker, Elon added three more insurance runs on the bottom of the sixth. That would push the Phoenix’s advantage to 6-2 which would be enough to hold off the Rams for the Phoenix’s fifth straight win and Bocock’s 400th career victory.
Elon had seven hits in the contest with the top of the lineup trio of Shutt, Olson and Serafini combining for seven of those with their multi-hit efforts. Shutt led the Phoenix with two RBI and a double in the game, the 46th of her career. That puts her in a tie for third all-time in program history with Jenny Gustin (2001-04).
Barker tossed 6.0 innings to improve to 2-1 on the season. The Granville, Ohio, native gave up three hits and two runs with three strikeouts.
The Elon Softball Tournament begins its second day on Saturday, Feb. 17, beginning at a new time at 9:30 a.m. The Phoenix will play one game tomorrow in the four-game slate, with the maroon and gold scheduled to face Bowling Green in a rematch at 12:15 p.m.