ELON, N.C. – A five-run bottom of the sixth inning helped the Elon University softball team rally from an early two-run deficit to earn a 5-2 victory over College of Charleston in the Colonial Athletic Association opener for both teams on Saturday afternoon, March 24, at Hunt Softball Park.
The Phoenix (16-12, 1-0 CAA) took the first game of the scheduled three-game set over the Cougars (18-12, 0-1 CAA). Both teams were originally slated to play a doubleheader on Saturday, but inclement weather forced the postponement of the second game to tomorrow, March 25, for a tentative start time at 1 p.m.
At the Plate: Both teams were tied with eight hits apiece at the plate along with seven runners stranded…Hannah Olson and Ally Repko tied the Phoenix’s team-lead with two hits with Repko adding a team-best two RBI and a home run…Olson also added a RBI to her stat line…Elon held CofC, who came into the contest second in the CAA in RBI, without one in the contest.
In the Circle: Senior Kiandra Mitchum took the win in the circle for the Phoenix, improving to 6-5 on the season…The lefty tossed a complete game and allowed two runs with four strikeouts and a walk.
The Cougars got on the board early in the top of the first behind a Phoenix miscue. CofC had two runners reach on one-out singles before both moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt. A wild pitch would enable both runners to come across the plate and hand the Phoenix an early 2-0 deficit.
Elon nearly got some runs back in its home half of the first. The Phoenix drew a leadoff walk before Olson also reached on a bunt single to give the Phoenix the tying runs on the base paths. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners into scoring position before the bags became full on an Ashtyn Foddrell free pass. Facing only one out, Elon looked poised for a big inning, but the Cougars were able to finagle their way out of the jam with a strikeout and a foul out to third to leave the bases loaded.
The Phoenix placed runners in scoring position again in the bottom of the third. Olson reached on a one-out walk before advancing to second on a single by Erica Serafini. A grounder moved Serafini and Olson into scoring position, but a ground out to second ended the threat.
Another two runners would reach in the fourth inning for the Phoenix. Repko led off with a single and moved to second thanks to a fielding error after Katrina Martin reached on a fielder’s choice. A double play on a lineout to second halted that threat as CofC eventually retired the side with its 2-0 lead intact.
After the Mitchum held the Cougars with her fifth straight scoreless inning in the top of the sixth, Elon began its comeback in the home half. Elise Walton opened with a single to right field before she was replaced by a pinch runner. That gave the Phoenix the tying run at the plate as Repko stepped into the batter’s box. The Broadway, Va., native took a 2-1 pitch and sent it far over the left field fence for her team-leading fourth homer of the year to knot the game at two-all.
The rally continued as CofC recovered to record the first out of the inning on a fielder’s choice, but the Phoenix had the go-ahead run at first with Kristin Hoover coming into the lineup as a pinch hitter. Seeing her first at bat since March 9 due to injury, the Tampa, Fla., native single into left field, moving the lead runner to third and advancing to second on the throw to home. An errant throw however led to the catcher misplaying the ball and aiding the Phoenix to plate the go-ahead run and take a 3-2 lead with Hoover moving to third. Another fielding miscue by the Cougars led to Hoover moving all the way around the bases and putting the Phoenix ahead 4-2.
Elon added another insurance run in the inning as Kara Shutt singled with one out to give the Phoenix another runner on. Olson moved her to second on a bunt single, but with no one covering third, Shutt advanced to the vacate base with Olson also taking notice and advancing to second. As confusion came across the Cougars’ infield, Shutt went to the dish and plated the fifth run of the inning to as Elon led 5-2. College of Charleston finally found a way to get out of the inning as the Cougars induced a double play on the next at bat, but the damage was done.
CofC challenged in the seventh with two runners reaching on one-out singles. A fielder’s choice to Repko at third was able to retire the lead runner and gave the Cougars its final out with runners at first and second and the tying run at the plate. After a couple of foul balls, Mitchum forced the final out on a fly out to Serafini in shallow right as the Phoenix held on for the 5-2 come-from-behind victory over the Cougars.
Both teams will conclude the series tomorrow, March 25, with a doubleheader as the first game is slated for a tentative start time of 1 p.m.