DURHAM, N.C. – Freshman Jamie Finnical of the Elon University softball team battled Duke’s Amelia Wiercioch in a pitcher’s duel, but the Blue Devils would ultimately come out on top with a 1-0 victory over the Phoenix in a midweek nonconference game on Wednesday, April 11, at the Duke Softball Stadium.
Elon (20-19) fell to the Blue Devils (21-21) in the first-ever regular season meeting on the softball diamond between the two programs. Duke was also the fourth and final team from the ACC that the Phoenix has faced this season.
At the Plate: Elon was held to four hits in the game by four different players…Kara Shutt was one of the four players to record a hit for the Phoenix, improving her reached base streak to 14 games…Tia Mitchell had a double for Elon, her first of the season…Elon left eight baserunners on.
In the Circle: Finnical (0-1) took the tough-luck loss despite the first-year player going toe-for-toe versus the Blue Devils in her first career start…The Reistertown, Md., native threw a complete-game and surrendered one run with four strikeouts…Her counterpart Wiercioch also went the distance with eight strikeouts as she improved to 7-8 on the year.
A one-out solo home run in the bottom of the first opened the scoring for the Blue Devils. Kortney Dry connected on her first of the season on a 2-0 count to put Duke ahead 1-0. Another runner would reach in the frame on a walk, but Elon retired the next two at bats to leave her stranded.
Elon had a couple of runners reach in the top of the third. Hannah Olson was hit by a pitch before she was joined on the base paths by Ally Repko via a two-out fielding error by the Duke shortstop. The Phoenix could not take advantage as a strikeout closed the frame.
Duke loaded the bases in the bottom of the third. The Blue Devils led off the inning with a single and added another runner on a Phoenix error. After a Finnical strikeout recorded the first out, Duke loaded the bags on a single to third. Elon held on to escape the jam as the next two outs were induced on a fielder’s choice and a grounder to second.
The Blue Devils got in prime scoring position in the bottom of the fourth with one out. Duke reached on a leadoff bunt single before a one-out single to right center gave the Blue Devils a couple on base in scoring position after the batter advanced to second on the throw to third. Elon finagled its way out of the jam again as Finnical held the runners to keep them from crossing the dish.
In the top of the sixth, the Phoenix got a runner briefly into scoring position. Erica Serafini reached on a fielder’s choice with two outs before Kristin Hoover stepped to the plate. Hoover knocked a single into center field with Serafini going to second. Serafini attempted to advance, but she was thrown out on a tough play at third to end the inning.
Elon would make one final rally in the top of the seventh. After the first two batters were retired, Mitchell gave the Phoenix hope on a double to left center. The Blue Devils responded by intentionally walking Shutt as Elon look to take advantage with a couple of runners on. Duke however forced a fielder’s choice to third for the final out to escape with the 1-0 win.
Elon takes a trip to Towson for its Colonial Athletic Association series this weekend, April 14-15. The Phoenix and the Tigers are set to open with a doubleheader on Saturday at noon before concluding the three-game set on Sunday at 1 p.m.