Having improved its record to 25-13 (7-5 Colonial Athletic Association) after an important series win against the University of Delaware Blue Hens, the Elon University softball team has high hopes for the remainder of the season.
“I am very pleased with the growth of our team at this point,” head coach Kathy Bocock said, “This team has matured through the season by helping each other through adversity with lots of schedule changes.”
Elon currently sits in third place in the CAA but has had its share of obstacles in the process of climbing the leaderboard.
Inclement weather forced the Phoenix to reschedule several games, often at inconvenient times. The team had to play seven games in five days at point in the season.
But the Phoenix has managed to remain focused and overcome such adversity.
The CAA has given weekly honor accolades to four different members of the softball team thus far into the season; two of the players received multiple honors. While individual awards are not necessarily what the Phoenix prides itself on, it is a testament to the work ethic Bocock instills in her players.
One player who has had a breakout season for the Phoenix is freshman infielder Hannah Olson. She has wasted no time adjusting to collegiate softball.
As one of the young leaders for the Phoenix, she has the highest individual batting average (.347) and on-base percentage (.453). Once she gets on base, her teammates enable her to cross home plate. Olson currently has 22 runs scored thus far.
While Olson’s numbers are remarkable, freshman outfielder Kara Shutt sits close behind statistically. Shutt is second on the team in batting average (.339) and is tied for the team lead in runs batted in (28). Shutt also leads the team in hits (42), total bases (65) and doubles (11).
Sophomore catcher Emily Roper has also made significant offensive contributions for the Phoenix with her six home runs this season. Roper shares the team lead with Shutt for runs batted in and leads in slugging percentage (.540).
Elon is also excelling in the circle.
For the pitching staff, senior Chelsea White has led by example and mounted a 5-0 on the season. Junior Kayla Caruso and freshman Kiandra Mitchum have shared the majority of the time starting in the circle. Both have made 25 appearances and recorded eight wins.
“This team is confident in our ability to win every game we play,” Caruso said. “If we continue to improve over the next several weeks, our talent and work ethic will take us far.”
With 14 games remaining in the season, nine of which are against CAA opponents — Hofstra University, James Madison University and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington — the Phoenix has a chance to clinch a postseason berth into the CAA Tournament.
Although there are eight teams in the conference, only four are eligible to compete in the CAA Tournament. Elon is currently two games ahead of the fifth place team.
While being two games ahead with nine conference games remaining may sound pretty encouraging, Elon has a tough road ahead. The Phoenix will travel to Hofstra and James Madison within the next two weeks.
The JMU Dukes have an impressive overall record (32-6) and an even more impressive CAA record (11-0). Hofstra is also a formidable opponent with a 9-2 record in CAA play.
With less than a month until the CAA championships begin on May 6, every game counts for Elon.
“I believe this team is more than capable of winning a CAA championship this year if we play softball like we know how to,” Shutt said, “I think we just need to be more consistent in our overall performance as a team, not just physically but mentally.”
The Phoenix returns home at Hunt Softball Park today to host a doubleheader at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. against North Carolina A&T.