The Elon University softball team left for Woodstock, Ga. hoping to keep up the momentum that comes with an 8-2 start.
It was the homecoming senior pitcher and designated player Erin O’Shea dreamed of.
The Kennesaw, Ga. native hit a walk-off extra-inning home run to beat Southeastern Louisiana University one night, and threw a complete game gem the next to lead the Phoenix to an upset victory over No. 25 Georgia Tech and a 3-1 road trip in the Georgia Tech Buzz Classic March 2-4.
“It was awesome to be able to perform and get the job done and have people that I care about there watching,” O’Shea said about playing in front of friends and family.
[quote]The SoCon’s a very strong conference. That’s why we played and did the stuff we did to get ready for them. We’re not taking anything lightly. - Kathy Bocock, interim head coach[/quote]
The win over the Yellow Jackets was a 180-degree change of direction from earlier in the morning. Less than one hour after the Georgia Tech game began, Elon (11-3) was thumped 10-2 by Rhode Island, which entered play 1-6.
“We came together and I said ‘Look guys, we gotta go play another game,’” said interim head coach Kathy Bocock. “We can’t worry about that game right now that we just played because we couldn’t change anything. So we needed to get our heads up. I didn’t want to see anybody sulking about it. I wanted to move forward.”
Elon followed a 5-0 shutout victory over Kennesaw State Friday afternoon with the win against Southeastern Louisiana. After entering the eighth inning all tied up, each team started the inning with a runner placed on second base and no outs. After the Lions scored in the top half of the frame, O’Shea stepped up to the plate with one out and two women on and sent a middle-in screwball over the center field fence.
“It was a no-doubter,” Bocock said. “She had a couple of good aggressive cuts prior to that. We knew if she made contact, it was going, and it did.”
Elon’s focus now turns to conference play, which begins March 10 at home against the Furman University Paladins.
“The SoCon’s a very strong conference,” Bocock said. “That’s why we played and did the stuff we did to get ready for them. We’re not taking anything lightly. We’re going to be 0-0 going into conference is the way we’re going to kinda look at it.”
The Paladins took two of three from the Phoenix a year ago, but Furman has stumbled along to a 7-9 start, including a pair of losses to Georgia Tech.
Elon also has eight newcomers Furman has yet to see, including freshman second baseman Cyra Cottrell, who leads the team with three home runs — among them a dinger that provided the Phoenix a key insurance run in the game against the Yellow Jackets.
“These tournaments really helped us pick out what we need to work on,” Cottrell said. “Because these games do count, but the conference games are even more important.”