CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Elon University softball team snapped a five-game losing streak with a 2-1 defeat at North Carolina on Wednesday, Feb. 26, at Anderson Softball Stadium.
The Phoenix improved to 8-6 on the season with its first true road win of the year over its intrastate foe North Carolina, who fell to 6-10. It was the third straight victory for Elon over North Carolina, who previously had won only four games in the all-time series over the Tar Heels in 34 tries entering the matchup on Wednesday.
“Yesterday, we got back to the drawing board after a tough weekend at South Carolina,” said Elon head coach Kathy Bocock. “The players came out in yesterday’s practice determined to get better and I think it carried over into today. We were able to take the lead and fought through some close moments and some mistakes and took care of business.”
AT THE PLATE
Elon outhit the Tar Heels, 7-5, as freshman Megan Grant and senior Morgan Reich paced the Phoenix offensively at the plate with both going 2-of-3 with a double. Grant added an RBI as did fellow rookie Bella Devesa with an RBI double.
IN THE CIRCLE
Alexa Nemeth (1-1) was credited with the win after pitching 5.0 innings in relief. She allowed four hits and one unearned run in the game while walking two. Senior Kenna Quinn started the contest and pitched 2.0 scoreless frames with one hit allowed and a pair of strikeouts.
North Carolina was the first team with a real chance to strike first on the scoreboard in its half of the first. A single and a pair of stolen bases by Abby Settlemyre put the Tar Heels in position to open the game with an early lead, but the Phoenix and Quinn were able to escape the jam.
After a quiet second inning, Elon finally broke through in the third frame. Reich led off with a double to left center and scored on the next at bat on a double by Devesa to right center to put the Phoenix up 1-0. Grant added to Elon’s advantage with her double to left field, scoring Devesa and putting the maroon and gold ahead 2-0.
The Tar Heels answered in its half of the third to cut into the Phoenix’s lead. A fielding error led to Destiny Middleton reaching to open the frame before stealing second to move into scoring position. A bunt single by Settlemyre eventually scored Middleton to put North Carolina on the scoreboard with Settlemyre reaching second on the play. After a walk added another runner on the bases for the Tar Heels, Nemeth and the Phoenix finagled out of the jam, inducing a double play and a ground out to end the threat.
Elon looked to expand its lead in the sixth. Grant opened the inning on a free pass and moved to second on Rebecca Murray’s single to left center. After a lineout, the Phoenix’s Claudia Penny drew a walk to load the bases for Elon with only one out. A fielder’s choice and a ground out however would leave them full as the contest moved to the final inning.
Nemeth quickly set down the first two batters she faced, but ran into some trouble as the next batter walked and moved to second on a passed ball putting the tying run in scoring position. A single by Middleton gave the Tar Heels the potential walk-off run on base with Settlemyre coming to the plate. Nemeth and the Phoenix were able to recover to force a lineout to second to escape with the 2-1 victory.
The Phoenix travels to Lynchburg, Va., for the Liberty Softball Classic this weekend, Feb. 29-March 1. Elon opens the tournament versus Yale on Saturday at 11 a.m.