LYNCHBURG, Va. – The Elon University softball team battled back from an early deficit to earn a 6-4 victory over Fairfield in its opening game at the Liberty Softball Classic on Saturday, Feb. 29, at the Liberty Softball Stadium.
Elon (9-6) recovered from being down 2-0 to Fairfield (1-6) early in the first inning to win its second straight game. The matchup was the first meeting all-time between the Phoenix and the Stags on the softball diamond.
AT THE PLATE
Both teams were even in hits with six each. Carley Davis (2-of-3) and Megan Grant (2-of-4) had multi-hit efforts for the Phoenix with Davis driving in a season-high three RBI. Rebecca Murray and Bella Devesa also drove in a run for the Phoenix.
IN THE CIRCLE
Alexa Nemeth (2-1) earned the victory in relief for the Phoenix after coming on for starter Kenna Quinn in the second inning. Nemeth threw 5.2 innings and surrendered four hits and two runs, with one of those being earned. She also fanned three batters. Quinn tossed 1.1 frames with two runs allowed. She also had two strikeouts and four walks.
The game got off to a shaky start for the Phoenix in the top of the opening frame. After Fairfield opened with a grounder, the Stags’ Megan Forbes drove a solo home run to left field putting Elon down early. Another run would cross the plate on a Kaitlin Hoffman double down the left field line, scoring Mikayla Rubin, who reached earlier on a walk, as Fairfield went up 2-0.
Fairfield was in position to add more runs to its lead loading the bases in the top of the second. The Stags drew a walk to start the inning before a sac bunt moved her into scoring position. Two more walks loaded the bases for the Stags with one out before Elon called on Nemeth to the circle. Nemeth struck out the next batter and was able to induce the final out on a fly out to right.
Elon finally responded with a three-run bottom of the second. Keagan Goldwait singled to left with one out and moved to second after Morgan Reich received a free pass. The Phoenix put ducks on the pond on a Devesa single to center before a two-RBI single to center from Davis tied the contest at 2-2. A single from Grant loaded the bases again before a sac fly from Murray scored Devesa from third to put the Phoenix up 3-2.
The Stags took advantage of a passed ball in the sixth to tie the game. Fairfield reached on a one-out single and advanced to second on ground out. A passed ball moved her to third before she crossed the dish on Hannah Futo’s single to left to tie the contest at three-all.
The Phoenix came right back to retake the lead in its home half of the sixth thanks to some errors from Fairfield. Lauryn Clarke led off with a walk before a strikeout induced the first out of the frame. Reich followed with a sacrifice bunt, but an errant throw to first by the pitcher allowed her to reach while moving Clarke into scoring position at third. Reich was able to steal second with no one covering the base to give Elon two runners in prime position to put the Phoenix back in front. A deep fly ball to center from Devesa was enough to score Clarke from third on a sacrifice fly, but the fielder dropped the ball leading to Reich scoring to put Elon in front 5-3. Davis then drove in her third RBI of the contest on a single up the middle to put the Phoenix ahead 6-3.
Fairfield came back with a run in the top of the seventh, but Elon’s defense was able to hold off the Stags’ attempted rally to escape with the 6-4 win.
Elon is back in the field later this evening to face Penn in its nightcap. That contest is scheduled for a 5 p.m. start.