HARRISONBURG, Va. – The Elon University softball team battled through all seven innings at No. 24 James Madison, but ultimately came up short in its attempt to upset the nationally-ranked Dukes, falling by a score of 10-9 in the opening game of its Colonial Athletic Association series on Saturday, April 17, at Veterans Memorial Park.
The Phoenix (13-15, 6-4 CAA) took the lead three times over James Madison (20-1, 8-1 CAA), but the Dukes were able to respond each time before walking off with its 10th straight win in the seventh.
At the Plate
The Phoenix had seven hits in the contest with Mekayla Frazier and Rebecca Murray both going 2-for-4 to lead the maroon and gold at the plate. Elon also had four home runs in the contest from Frazier, Megan Grant, Ally Repko and Gabi Schaal with Grant’s being a grand slam. Grant would end the game with five total RBI to lead the Phoenix.
In the Circle
Three players took turns toeing the rubber for Elon with the loss going to Mckenzie Weber (2-3). Weber was the third pitcher in the game for the Phoenix as she pitched 2.2 innings with three hits and three runs allowed with two of those being earned.
The Phoenix started fast, capitalizing on a pair of first inning solo home runs to take the lead. Frazier opened the game with her fourth dinger of the season while Repko added her sixth round tripper of 2021 two batters later to put the Phoenix ahead 2-0.
The Dukes responded to get a run back in its home half of the first and took the lead on a pair of home runs in the second. Sara Jubas connected on a three-run homer to left field while Logan Newton added a solo shot to left center that put the Dukes up 5-2 after the second.
Both teams were quiet in the third inning, but the Phoenix came back and took the lead in the top of the fourth on Grant’s grand slam. Elon loaded the bases after Murray reached on a single to lead off the inning along with a pair of walks to Repko and Grace Kiser with Grant coming to the plate. The Vinton, Va., native sent a 2-2 pitch over the wall at right center as the four runs gave Elon a 6-5 advantage.
JMU rallied with two outs in the bottom of the fourth to take the lead right back. After the first two batter were retired for the Dukes, James Madison’s Madison Naujokas reached on a walk before scoring off Lynsey Meeks’ double to left center. Meeks herself would cross the dish on another double to put JMU ahead 7-6.
Elon came back with a three-run top of the fifth to go ahead once again. A two-run home run from Schaal gave Elon an 8-7 lead while Grant added another run on a sacrifice fly to put the Phoenix ahead 9-7.
The Dukes tied the game once more in the bottom of the fifth with two outs. Naujokas doubled to right center to score a pair of runs to tie the contest at nine-all.
Neither team made much noise in the sixth, but Elon got off to a shaky start in the bottom of the seventh. The Dukes loaded the bases with no outs as Naujokas came to the plate looking to provide the walk-off opportunity for JMU. Naujokas hit a sharp liner to third, in which Elon fielded and threw at home for the force out at the plate, but an error on the fielder’s choice allowed the Dukes to earn the win off the Phoenix miscue, 10-9.
The Phoenix and the Dukes complete the series tomorrow, April 18, with a doubleheader at 12 p.m.