GREENSBORO, N.C. – Thanks to some key hits in the last three frames, the Elon University softball team erased an early 2-0 deficit to earn a 7-2 non-conference victory at North Carolina A&T on Tuesday, March 27, in an early-week bout at the Lady Aggies Softball Complex.
The Phoenix (18-13) rallied to earn its fifth win out of its last six overall and its fourth straight in the series against the Lady Aggies (5-23). Elon has also won 11 of its past 12 overall versus its longtime Triad rival.
At the Plate: The Phoenix was outhit at the plate by the Lady Aggies, 10-8, but forced N.C. A&T to leave 10 runners on base…Seven players for the Phoenix recorded a base hit with Kristin Hoover leading the way with her 2-for-4 performance and two RBI…Freshman Ally Repko had three RBI on her team-best fifth homer of the season…Erica Serafini had a double in the contest, her sixth of the year.
In the Circle: Kenna Quinn was credited with the win in relief, improving to 4-4 on the season…The sophomore threw 4.0 innings and surrendered three hits with two strikeouts…Freshman Jamie Finnical threw two scoreless frames with a strikeout to earn her first career save.
Elon found itself down early to its Triad rival after the bottom of the first. The Lady Aggies led off the inning with a single to center and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. A two-out single to center drove in the first run of the contest to make the score 1-0 in favor of N.C. A&T.
Another leadoff single to start the bottom of the second put another runner on early for the Lady Aggies. After a passed ball and a fielder’s choice moved her all the way to third, a single through the right side plated the second run of the game for North Carolina A&T as Elon faced a 2-0 disadvantage.
The Phoenix would get one base runner on in both the third and fourth innings, but could not find that clutch hit to drive them home. That narrative would change in the top of the fifth frame. Elon’s Abby Barker received a one-out hit-by-pitch to give the Phoenix a runner on as she was replaced on the bases by Morgan Reich. Hoover moved her fellow Florida native over to second before Kara Shutt loaded the bags after reaching on a fielder’s choice. Elon finally crossed the dish on the next at-bat as Hannah Olson drove a ball on a fly out to left field, deep enough for Reich to tag up and score the first run of the game for the Phoenix and trim its deficit to 2-1.
Elon continued to provide those key hits in the top of the sixth to take the lead over the Lady Aggies. Elise Walton started the rally on a one-out single to right center before she was replaced on the bases by Tia Mitchell. A strikeout put the Phoenix down to its final out of the inning, but Elon stayed alive as Katrina Martin drove a single to centerfield, advancing Mitchell to second. The defender misplayed the ball however as Mitchell moved to third on the play giving Elon runners at the corners.
Barker provided the key hit to tie the game for the Phoenix on the next at bat. The Granville, Ohio, native singled to score Mitchell and moved to second after a throwing error by the shortstop with Martin also advancing to scoring position at third base. Hoover quickly broke the stalemate on her two-RBI single to right field, putting the Phoenix ahead 4-2.
The rally continued as the Phoenix’s offense pressed on and added more run support in the top of the seventh. Repko extended Elon’s lead to 7-2 as the first-year player homered for the second time in the last four games, this time on a three-run deep hit ball to left field.
The Lady Aggies had two runners reach in its home half of the seventh, but Finnical and the Phoenix defense was able to hold off the threats to secure the 7-2 win.
Elon is back at Hunt Softball Park this weekend, March 31-April 1, to host Hofstra for its second Colonial Athletic Association series of the year. The Phoenix and the Pride are scheduled for doubleheader on Saturday at 1 p.m. before concluding the series on Easter Sunday with a opening pitch at noon.