CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Elon University softball team earned its second win of the weekend at the Carolina Classic as the Phoenix won a 7-3 victory over host North Carolina on Saturday evening, March 3 at Anderson Stadium. The win was the second of the season for Elon over the Tar Heels and the first in Chapel Hill since 1998.
Elon (11-5) won consecutive games for the first time against its longtime intrastate rival after coming into the season with a seven-game losing streak against the Tar Heels (6-13). Today’s win was also the first for the program at UNC since entering the Division I era in 2000. The four-run margin of victory is also the best in school history over the Tar Heels.
“I really felt good about our team as we were warming up today,” said Elon head coach Kathy Bocock. “They really came out hot and ready to play and it showed with this performance. Carolina has a great program and it’s huge for us to go to their place and earn a win there for first time in a long time.”
The Phoenix earned the No. 2 seed in the tournament and will square off against No. 1 seed Kansas on Sunday in the championship game. North Carolina and Harvard will close out the tournament in the consolation game after the conclusion of the Phoenix against the Jayhawks.
At the Plate: Hannah Olson had a big day at the plate for the Phoenix, going 3-for-4 with two RBI and her fifth double of the season…Walker Barbee was 2-for-4 for Elon while Ashtyn Foddrell added two more RBI with a home run in the fifth…Kara Shutt was 1-for-3 with a team-high two runs scored, two RBI and her eighth double of the season…The double was also the 50th of Shutt’s career…Overall, Elon had nine hits in the game compared to eight for North Carolina…The Phoenix left seven runners stranded on the base paths while North Carolina had five.
In the Circle: Abby Barker (5-1) was credited with the win for the Phoenix…The Granville, Ohio, native tossed 4.0 innings with six hits and one run allowed with one strikeout…Kiandra Mitchum and Kenna Quinn pitched in relief for the Phoenix with Quinn going 2.0 perfect innings with one strikeout.
The Phoenix got off to a fast start in the game with a couple of runs in the opening inning. After Shutt was walked to lead off the contest, a RBI double from Olson to right center drove her home for the first run of the game. Olson herself crossed home plate on another double, this time on a hit to the opposite side of the field from Erica Serafini. UNC made a pitching change as starter Hannah Todd was relieved for Hannah Nommensen. Serafini would eventually move to third with two outs after the switch in the circle, but Elon would leave her stranded as the inning closed out with a popup to second.
A three-run top of the second for the Phoenix increased its advantage to five. Barbee reached on a one-out single and advanced to second on a Tia Mitchell walk. The pair would be driven in on a double to right center by Shutt to push the Phoenix’s lead to 4-0. Olson’s RBI single to left field sent Shutt home once again to make the score 5-0 before the Tar Heels made another change in the circle with Brittany Pickett replacing Nommensen. Elon would get two runners on with one out in the frame, but could not continue the momentum as the inning came to a close on a foul out to first.
The Tar Heels would get on the board in the bottom of the third. North Carolina’s Hailey Cole connected on a RBI single to score Sierra Parkinson, who led off earlier in the frame with a single. The score trimmed the Phoenix’s lead to 5-1 with one out and runners in scoring position for the Tar Heels. Elon would induce the next two outs on a fly out to left and a line out to second to keep the Tar Heels at bay.
In the top of the fifth, Elon added to its lead thanks to Foddrell’s two-run home run. The Warrenton, Va., native took the first pitch she saw and sent a one-out, two-run blast over the left field wall for her second of the season. The play put the Phoenix ahead 7-1 going to the sixth.
North Carolina fought back with a two-run bottom of the sixth. A Hailey Jensen RBI double to left center scored pinch runner Leah Murray to trim Elon’s lead to 7-2. Another RBI on a sacrifice fly to center added the third run of the contest for the Tar Heels as the Phoenix saw its advantage shrink to four, 7-3.
The Phoenix held on in the seventh frame, retiring the Tar Heel side in the bottom of the inning to close the day with its 7-3 victory.
The Phoenix will play Kansas in the championship game of the Carolina Classic tomorrow morning, March 4, in a rematch of the opening game of the tournament. Opening pitch is scheduled for 10 a.m.