ELON, N.C. – The Elon University softball team split its Colonial Athletic Association doubleheader series opener versus James Madison on Saturday, March 27. The Phoenix (8-12, 1-1 CAA) fell to the Dukes (10-1, 1-1 CAA) in a close contest in the opening game, 2-0, before rebounding with a 5-4 win in the nightcap to hand JMU its first loss of the season.
“In the first game, Kenna (Quinn) and the defense did a great job and our offense just couldn’t string together timely hits,” said Elon head coach Kathy Bocock. “The team then came back ready to go and worked hard for the win in the second game to give us the split. Alexa (Nemeth) and the defense did another great job and this time our offense came out swinging and put runs up on the board to give us the confidence we needed to get the great team win”
Game One: James Madison 2, Elon 0
Game One Box
The Dukes scored their first run of the contest in the top of the first after Kate Gordon doubled down the left field line with one out to score Sara Jubas, who reached earlier in the frame, also on a double.
The Phoenix’s best chance to respond to the Dukes came in the home half of the fourth. Ally Repko reached on a one-out walk with Grace Kiser joining her on the bases after another free pass. A hit-by-pitch loaded the bases for Elon, but JMU pitcher Alissa Humphrey struck out the next two batters to leave the bags full.
Jubas expanded JMU’s lead in the top half of the fifth. The redshirt junior connected on a solo home run to leadoff the frame to push the Dukes’ advantage to 2-0.
Elon had another chance to have runners cross the dish in the bottom of the sixth. Kiser drew a hit-by-pitch to reach with one out and moved to second on a single up the middle by Megan Grant. Both runners moved into scoring position on a sacrifice back to the pitcher, but a ground out left them stranded.
The Phoenix would get a runner on in the bottom of the seventh with one out after Frazier reached after a base hit to the shortstop. James Madison however induced a double play on the next at bat to close out the game with a 2-0 win.
Kenna Quinn pitched her sixth complete game of the season as the Boiling Springs, S.C., native fell to 5-7 overall. Quinn allowed seven hits and two runs while also walking six. Her counterpart Humphrey improved to 6-0 with four hits allowed in her complete game performance. She also struck out 11 batters as Elon left eight runners on base.
Game Two: Elon 5, James Madison 4
Game Two Box
After a rain delay for nearly two hours after the opening game, both teams returned to the diamond for the nightcap at a 6:45 p.m. start. Elon’s offense got off to a quick start, scoring three runs in the bottom half of the first. Rebecca Murray drove a single through the left side to score Gabi Schaal, who reached earlier on a hit-by-pitch in the inning. The Phoenix’s Ally Repko came up and belted a two-run home run to center, increasing Elon’s lead to 3-0.
The Dukes got a run back in the top of the second, but Elon answered in the home half of the frame off the bat of Schaal. The Lakeland, Fla., native took a 3-2 pitch over the wall in center to put the Phoenix back up by three, 4-1.
James Madison narrowed the gap to 4-3 after the top of the third. Jubas drove in a run on a double down the left field line before the Dukes added their second run of the frame on a sacrifice fly to left to make it a one-run game.
Elon added a much-needed insurance run in the bottom of the fifth as Schaal added her second dinger of the contest. The freshman attacked the first pitch she saw and drove it to left field as the solo homer moved Elon back up by two, 5-3.
A Phoenix error in the top of the sixth led to JMU getting a run back to make it 5-4. The Dukes would get the tying run on in the top half of the sixth, but the Phoenix was able to work around it to earn the close out game two with the victory to earn the split.
Nemeth moved to 2-3 on the season with her complete game effort in the circle against the Dukes. The Mooresville, N.C., native allowed five hits, four runs, three earned, and struck out three batters.
Schaal went a perfect 2-for-2 at the plate with her two home runs and a pair of RBI. Repko also had two RBI as the Phoenix posted six hits in the game.
The rubber match between the Phoenix and the Dukes is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. tomorrow, March 28.