After the Phoenix Opening Tournament that was scheduled last week, but due to inclement weather was rescheduled, the Elon University softball team traveled to Orlando, Florida to compete in the Citrus Classic. The tournament was held from Feb. 20-22 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports.
In its first game of the tournament, Elon challenged George Washington University. Freshman Kiandra Mitchum stood on the bump for the Phoenix and made sure the Elon bats got plenty of chances. Mitchum struckout six batters in her five innings pitched, only allowing one hit before she was relieved. Senior Caitlin O’Shea took over, pitching one and a third innings, giving up two runs. Sophomore Alli Burdette who finished the last two thirds of an inning, with no harm done, relieved her. Mitchum received the win, improving her record to 3-2 on the season.
The Elon bats only needed one inning to seal the game and that was the top of the second inning. The Phoenix drove all seven runs across the plate in the inning on three hits. Out of their total seven runs, not one Elon player scored twice. Seven of the nine starters in the lineup crossed the plate in the inning. From there, Mitchum shut down the George Washington offense, and there was no need for the Phoenix to score another run.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, George Washington finally managed to drive two runs in, one on an Elon error. Elon went on to win the game, 7-2.
Following the game against George Washington, the Phoenix took on Jacksonville State University.
The second game of the day was much more competitive then the first for Elon.
There were no runs scored until the top of the sixth inning, when Elon drove across a run on an RBI triple from freshman outfielder, Kara Shutt. The lone run of the ballgame gave Elon the win, 1-0.
Junior Kayla Caruso started on the mound for the Phoenix, she received her second win of the season, putting her at 2-0. Caruso pitched four and two third innings in which she only allowed three hits to the 22 batters she faced. Senior Chelsea White came in relief with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning. White allowed no runs, no hits and had five strikeouts to complete the save. In a clear pitchers’ duel, offense did not play a large role in the game.
Shutt was one of two Phoenix players to have a hit in the game. She was two for three with an RBI that turned out to be the deciding factor in the game. Her two hits were a double and triple.
After ending the day 2-0, refining their record to 5-3, Elon broke for the day before returning on Sunday, Feb. 22 to take on Morgan State University.
Junior Kayla Caruso was the started her second consecutive game when Elon returned to the fields Sunday morning. Her performance proved that no fatigue lay on her shoulders from the previous day. Caruso threw five innings, giving up two hits and setting down six batters on strikeouts. Relieved in the top of the sixth inning by sophomore Alli Burdette, Morgan State’s offense came alive. Burdette gave up two earned runs on two hits, without recording any outs. Senior Caitlin O’Shea relieved Burdette after only three batters. O’Shea tamed the Bears, manufacturing her first save of the season. Elon won, 5-2.
Unlike the previous day, Elon’s offense was much more consistent in the game, scoring in four of their six at bats. A two run home run from sophomore catcher Emily Roper set the tone for the day. Roper who was two for three with three RBI and a run scored, led the charge for the Phoenix.
The win was the third straight for Elon and took no time before competing against the University of Virginia later in the afternoon.
Virginia led off the game, bringing in one run before sending Elon to the plate. The Phoenix wasted no time answering back. Elon drove in three runs giving it a two run lead.
Leaving two runners on base, Virginia couldn’t cut the deficit in the top of the second. Elon took advantage and added a run, bringing the lead to three. Elon’s offense leveled out in the next few innings and Virginia answered back one at a time. As the Phoenix stepped to the plate in the bottom of the fifth, the game was tied at four. The Elon offense resurged.
Three hits and a wild pitch brought in four runs for the Phoenix putting it ahead, 8-4. Virginia managed to cut the Phoenix lead to two in the top of the sixth, but put up none in its last at bats. The Phoenix won 8-6.
Pitching was challenged consistently throughout the game for Elon. Freshman Kiandra Mitchum started off the game for Elon. She pitched three and two third innings; giving up three runs before being senior Chelsea White came in relief. White pitched one and a third innings, only allowing one run. She received the win. Caitlin O’Shea relieved White in the top of the sixth. After O’Shea got into trouble in the top of the seventh, Mitchum returned to the mound to record the final out. Mitchum struck out the batter looking, giving her the save.
Coming off of three consecutive losses at the Georgia Softball Classic, Elon turned things around sweeping the Citrus Classic. The Phoenix now sit at 7-4 on the season. It will return to the diamond on Wednesday, Feb. 25 when it travels to Chapel Hill to challenge the University of North Carolina.