LYNCHBURG, Va. – A walk-off home run by freshman Claudia Penny highlighted the final day at the Liberty Softball Classic for the Elon University softball team on Sunday, March 1. Penny’s home run helped the Phoenix to a 6-4 victory over Yale in its opening contest of the day. Elon would later fall to host Liberty, 8-0, in its nightcap at Liberty Softball Stadium.
The Phoenix moved to 10-8 on the season with the split on the day. Yale fell to 4-6 overall while Liberty moved to 7-11.
“Coming into this weekend, we had made a few moves on some positions with the players,” said Elon head coach Kathy Bocock. “Just wanted to give some people chances at different positions so we can be prepared moving forward and I think the girls did a pretty good job with it. Of course, we had a great walk-off situation this morning, but we just got to keep working hard and keep learning from some of our mistakes this weekend.”
Game One: Elon 6, Yale 4
After two scoreless innings, Yale struck first on the scoreboard with a pair of runs in the top of the third. A couple of singles along with a Phoenix error led to the Bulldogs scoring a run with one out to take the lead. Another single plated another run as the Phoenix found itself down 2-0.
The Bulldogs came through again with a run in the top of the fourth. Yale opened the frame with a single before the next two batters were induced on lineouts. The Bulldogs moved into scoring position on a stolen base before scoring two batters later on a single to center to move ahead 3-0.
After Yale extended its lead to 4-0 with a solo home run in the top of the sixth, the Phoenix finally responded with a run of its own in the bottom half. Ally Repko drew a hit-by-pitch to lead off the inning and moved to second on a ground out. Penny drove her home on a one-out RBI double down the left field line to bring Elon within three, 4-1.
The Phoenix defense did its job in the top of the seventh, holding the Bulldogs off the bases before the turn of the inning back to the offense. Elon lined out to start the inning, but Megan Grant gave the Phoenix life with a triple to right field. She would cross the dish on a Rebecca Murray RBI single to cut Yale’s lead in half, 4-2. Murray followed with a stolen base to move into scoring position and capitalized by crossing the dish on a RBI double to left center by Carley Davis, making it a one-score game.
Elon however grounded out on the next at bat leaving the Phoenix down to its final out. Elon stayed alive as Drew Menser reached on infield single, moving Davis to third as the tying run stood 60-feet away with Penny coming to the plate. After a 1-1 count, Penny sent a ball that carried to right field and just went over the fence out of reach of the the fielder as the walk-off home run gave Elon the 6-4 victory.
At the Plate
The Phoenix had seven hits in the game with Penny going 2-of-3 with her second home run of the year while driving in four RBI. Murray also had a multi-hit day at the plate, going 2-of-4 with a RBI.
In the Circle
Kaitlin King moved to 4-4 as she earned the win in relief for the Phoenix. The freshman pitched 3.0 innings and gave up three hits and one run with a strikeout.
Game Two: Liberty 8, Elon 0 (5)
Liberty moved in front with a two-run home run in its bottom of the first. Amber Bishop connected with her seventh homer of the season to put the Flames ahead 2-0.
Bishop added another round tripper in the second inning. Liberty scored five total runs in the frame with Bishop’s second homer of the game capping the inning as Elon fell behind 7-0.
The Phoenix was able to have a pair of base runners reach in the third frame. Morgan Reich reached on an error and eventually moved to second on a single by Grant with two outs. A fly out would leave the pair stranded as the inning moved to the fourth.
The Flames added the last run of the contest on a two-out sacrifice fly to center to go ahead 8-0 in the bottom of the fourth. The Phoenix was retired in order in the fifth to end the game.
Elon is back at its home field this Saturday, March 7, to face UNCG to start a three-game series. The Phoenix and the Spartans open with a doubleheader at 1 p.m. at Hunt Softball Park.