ELON, N.C. – The Elon University softball team will look to be up to the task of snapping its five-game losing skid when it hosts perennial Colonial Athletic Association power James Madison in a three-game series this weekend, April 21-22. The Phoenix and the Dukes open with a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 p.m. before finishing the three-game set on Sunday also at 1 p.m. at Hunt Softball Park.
Follow the Phoenix
Fans can keep up with the action of the Phoenix all season via live stats from the program’s schedule page at elonphoenix.com. Updates will also be provided on Twitter at the program’s handle, @ElonUSoftball. All three contests will be streamed online on Elon’s Phoenix All-Access channel. For more on Elon softball, follow the program on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Inside the Series: James Madison (JMU Leads 10-9)
The Phoenix and the Dukes have met 19 times on the softball diamond all-time with nine of those contests coming as league foes since Elon joined the CAA in 2015. JMU has held the upper hand in the series lately, winning 12 of the past 13 contests. However, the lone win for Elon versus the Dukes came in 2016 when the Phoenix upset then No. 6 James Madison, 5-4, in a 15-inning thriller at Hunt Softball Park. The victory over the sixth-ranked Dukes is the highest-ranked victory in program history for the Phoenix.
Around the Horn
• The Phoenix is coming off CAA series setback at Towson this past weekend, April 14-15. Facing one of the top hitting teams in the nation, Elon could not keep up with the Tiger bats throughout the weekend and was outscored in the series, 26-4.
• Despite the setback last weekend at Towson, the Phoenix still sit in position of a postseason berth for the CAA Tournament. Elon is tied for the fifth in the league standings with its 4-8 ledger along with College of Charleston and a game behind fourth-place UNCW.
• Seniors Kara Shutt (.423) and Hannah Olson (.383) continues to lead the Phoenix at the plate as the lone players on the squad hitting higher than .300. Shutt’s average is fourth in the CAA and would be the second-best average in a single-season in school history.
• With 58 career doubles, Shutt needs only two more to tie the CAA’s all-time career record of 60 set by JMU’s Erica Field from 2013-16. The Greensboro, N.C., native is also in the top-five in CAA history in career hits (239) and triples (13).
• Elon has been the most dangerous in the third and sixth inning this season. The Phoenix has scored 37 runs in the sixth and 36 in the third.
• The Phoenix leads the CAA with 10 triples this season with two players, Shutt and junior Erica Serafini, ranking second in the CAA with three.
• Olson has a team-high 19 multi-hit games this season for the Phoenix while Shutt is second with 17. Shutt, Olson and freshman Ally Repko are tied with six multi-RBI contests for the maroon and gold in 2018.
• Overall, Elon is hitting .262 as a team, but that average has risen to .275 during CAA play. Shutt leads the team and the conference with 21 hits during the CAA season and carries a .477 average through the 12 league contests so far.
• James Madison will be the second team that Elon will face this season at home that’s receiving votes in the national polls. CAA-leader Hofstra was also receiving votes when the Pride visited the Phoenix earlier this season.
Scouting the Dukes (30-10, 10-2 CAA)
The Dukes arrive to Elon with an overall record of 30-10 and is second in the CAA standings with its 10-2 ledger. James Madison, who was selected as the league’s preseason favorite, was receiving votes in both the USA Today/NFCA Coaches and the ESPN.com/USA Softball national polls. JMU is coming off a midweek setback at Marshall on Wednesday, 7-0, its second straight defeat after losing to College of Charleston in its series finale on Sunday, 1-0.
As a team, the Dukes rank third in the CAA with a .306 average and is tied for the league-lead with 46 home runs. Three players in the Dukes’ regular lineup are hitting better than .300 with two, Odicci Alexander (.416) and Kate Gordon (.410) batting better than .400. Morgan Tolle has a team-best 53 hits with her .384 average while Alexander is tied for the CAA-lead with 12 homers.
In the circle, the JMU pitching staff has combined for a 1.53 team ERA in 265.1 innings of work, striking out 221 batters in their 40 contests. Alexander leads the team with her 143.1 innings tossed and 147 strikeouts. The sophomore has a 16-5 ledger on the season so far and a 1.95 ERA. Freshman Payton Buresch has a 14-4 record and a 0.87 ERA this season in 120.1 innings of action.
Elon wraps its nonconference schedule next Wednesday, April 25, with a rematch versus its longtime Triad rival North Carolina A&T. Both teams met already in Greensboro, N.C., on March 27, with the Phoenix pulling out a 7-2 victory. That game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start time at Hunt Softball Park.