ELON, N.C. – The Elon University softball team had a pair of chances for a walk-off in the seventh but could not find that evasive go-ahead run as the Phoenix fell to UNCW, 3-2, in its Colonial Athletic Association series finale on Sunday, April 4, at Hunt Softball Park.
Elon fell to 10-14 on the season with the setback and moved to 3-3 during league play. The Seahawks improved to 7-15 and holds the one-game edge over the Phoenix in the South Division with its 4-2 CAA ledger.
At the Plate
Elon outhit the Seahawks, 4-3, but two of UNCW’s hits were solo home runs in the third frame. Four different players recorded a hit for the Phoenix including Bella Devesa with her first career home run and Gabi Schaal with her sixth dinger of the year. Both Devesa and Schaal also had the lone RBIs in the contest for the maroon and gold as Elon left nine runners on base.
In the Circle
Three different pitchers saw time in the circle for Elon with Kaitlin King (0-1) being credited with the loss in relief. Alexa Nemeth started the game for the Phoenix and allowed two hits and two earned runs in her 3.0 innings of work. King tossed 2.0 innings and gave up one hit and one run, which was unearned. McKenzie Weber pitched the remaining 2.0 innings for the Phoenix.
Both teams did not record their first hit of the game until the third inning when UNCW’s Anna Knox led off the frame with a solo home run to left to break the scoreless contest. After Elon recovered with a pair of putouts, the Seahawks doubled their lead with another solo dinger, this time courtesy of Janel Gamache to left center as Elon faced a 2-0 deficit going into its half of the inning.
The Phoenix responded to join the Seahawks on the scoreboard as Devesa took a 1-1 pitch to left for her first career round tripper to leadoff the bottom of the third. Elon then had a pair of runners reach on an error and a walk before both players advanced into scoring position with no outs before UNCW made a pitching change. The Phoenix could not take advantage as Gamache took over in the circle and promptly induced the next three outs to escape the jam.
Elon tied the game at two-all in the bottom of the fifth. Schaal connected on a two-out, solo home run to left center bring the game to 2-2 after the fifth frame.
UNCW took the lead for good in the top of the sixth. The Seahawks reached on a Phoenix error to leadoff the inning with the runner advancing to second on a single by Gamache. The Phoenix made a switch in the circle as Weber took over for King, but a fly out to deep center enabled both runners to advance into scoring position. The Seahawks scored the go-ahead run on a bunt back to the pitcher, but the runner was able to avoid the tag at home as the Phoenix tried to make a play at the plate. With runners on first and third with one out, Weber was able to finagle out of the jam on a pair of grounders to end the inning.
Elon twice in the final two innings had the tying run reach base. In the sixth inning, Drew Menscer was walked to open the inning and advanced all the way to third with two outs, but Elon could not find the timely hit to bring her home.
In the final inning, Rebecca Murray was able to get on for the maroon and gold off a one-out single to third. The Phoenix looked for the big hit to tie the contest or earn the walk-off victory with the heart of its lineup coming to the plate, but UNCW was able to induce the final outs on a pair of deep fly balls to the warning track to secure the 3-2 win and avoid the series sweep.
The Phoenix travels to College of Charleston next weekend, April 10-11, for the first of two straight CAA series on the road.