After opening the season with three straight wins, the Elon University softball team traveled to Athens, Georgia, Feb. 13 to compete in the Georgia Softball Classic.
In 2013, Elon made its way to Athens to compete in the same tournament on the same field. Georgia, then ranked No. 8, opened its season against the Phoenix. At the time, the University of Georgia was 23-2 in the tournament, and Elon had never beaten the Bulldogs in lifetime matchups. But the Phoenix defeated Georgia for its highest ranked victory in school history. Junior infielder Emily Cameron, then a freshman, described what it was like to be at the game two years ago.
“It was great, the atmosphere of that game,” Cameron said. “The fans were the loudest I’ve ever heard them and we had confidence in each other. It almost seemed like a dream.”
Senior pitcher Chelsea White, then a sophomore, pitched seven innings and allowed only two runs. Elon put up five runs in the sixth and seventh innings after being held previously scoreless. It beat Georgia 5-2. By beating the Bulldogs, Elon broke a school record. Up until that point, no Elon team had beaten an opponent ranked so highly.
“We had nothing to lose going into the game,” White said. “We just went out and won. It was an awesome feeling.”
Since the Phoenix beat the Bulldogs in the 2013 season opener, the team was anxious for the chance to travel down to Athens one more time.
“They know we can beat them,” said head coach Kathy Bocock.
The Phoenix went winless in the tournament, with sluggish offense in all four games.
Errors also contributed to the losses. A team so defensively sound in its opening series committed 13 errors in four games, which led to seven runs for its opponents.
In the tournament, Elon had a couple of chances against the ninth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs. The first game on Friday, Feb. 13, seemed promising as Elon jumped to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but it quickly let the Bulldogs back in the game. NCAA regulations ended the game after the fifth inning per the run rule. This occurs when one team leads by 10 after five innings. Georgia beat the Phoenix 14-4.
The following day, Feb. 14, Elon had a chance to notch its first win of the weekend in its final game of the Classic against Georgia. Georgia’s starting pitcher, junior Chelsea Wilkinson, was a familiar face to the Phoenix. In the team’s 2013 win, Wilkinson started in the circle for the Bulldogs and took the loss for the game.
Elon was set down in order in three of the five innings and squeaked out only a single hit from the bat of senior infielder Aly Quintana. Wilkinson shut down the Phoenix and, the run rule again ended the game after five innings. Georgia won 10-0.
Following its homecoming from the Classic, the Phoenix will return to Hunt Park to take on Campbell University Feb. 18 at 4 p.m.
Although the team lost four straight games, Coach Bocock took pride in the type of girls she has on her team.
“They want to go out and show they can play with the best of the best,” Bocock said. “They don’t know to be scared of anyone. They’re excited about playing.”