After a trip to Hempstead, New York, to face Hofstra University in a Colonial Athletic Association matchup, the Elon University softball team has paved part of the tough path to the playoffs for themselves.
As the Phoenix stepped onto the diamond for a twin bill April 18, its offense did not. Elon only managed six hits and one run in the two games. While the Elon offense lulled, Hofstra jumped out to early leads on the day.
In the first game, freshman Kiandra Mitchum started on the mound for Elon. In her two and a third innings appearance, the freshman conceited 4 earned runs on five hits. Mitchum received the loss, making her record for the season at 8-7. Senior Caitlin O’Shea relieved Mitchum to finished the remaining innings. O’Shea, who allowed one hit, fared well against the Hofstra bats. She struck out three batters and allowed no more runs to cross the plate.
On the other side of the ball, the Phoenix struggled to find a rhythm. Through the first five innings, Elon manufactured no runs. It wasn’t until the top of the sixth inning when freshman infielder and leadoff batter Hannah Olson drove a ball over the fence in left field to put the Phoenix on the scoreboard. But the home run would be the only one on the game. The Phoenix dropped game one 4-1.
Game two looked similar to the first. Hofstra, taking the offensive momentum in the first inning, didn’t give an inch on defense. Elon produced three hits, but left every runner on base without putting up a run in the game.
O’Shea began the game in the circle for the Phoenix, but struggled with her command. Hofstra knocked O’Shea out of the game with only two thirds of an inning pitched after they drove across a pair of runs. Junior Kayla Caruso relieved O’Shea, pitching well in her five and a third innings. On the mound, Caruso allowed five hits and another pair of runs.
Elon returned to Bill Edwards Softball Stadium Sunday, April 19 prepared to take one in the series from the Pride. Unlike the two previous, the third game was a tight matchup from the get-go.
Olson and sophomore Alaina Hall found gaps in the defense for hits to leadoff the game. They were sent around to score, pushing Elon up 2-0 going into the bottom of the inning. Hofstra responded by cutting the lead to one on a sacrifice fly.
The next four innings were quiet, neither team scoring a run. In the bottom of the sixth, Hofstra slapped a home run over the fence, tying up the game at two. Motivated to avoid a sweep, the Phoenix rallied in the top of the seventh driving across three runs on hits from freshman Kara Shutt and sophomores Emily Roper and Carey Million. Elon’s defense remained disciplined in the bottom of the inning not allowing the Pride to score. The Phoenix took the win 5-2.
Senior Chelsea White started on the bump for Elon, throwing two innings and allowing a run and two walks. Caruso relieved the senior and went for four innings, giving up one run on five hits and granting four walks. She walked one batter in the seventh before Mitchum came in to close it out. Mitchum retired Hofstra on three pitches, facing only two batters. Caruso received the win, her ninth of the season, and Mitchum the save, her second.
With the Hofstra series in the past, Elon only has six games—two series—remaining in the CAA: James Madison University (April 25-26) currently leading the CAA (37-6, 14-0), and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (May 1-2), currently last in the CAA (17-22, 4-11).
Elon currently sits in third place, closely trailed by three teams. Towson University (25-18, 6-9) sits two games behind Elon and both the University of Delaware (23-18, 5-9) and Drexel University (17-17, 5-9) who trail by three games.
While tensions are building, the Phoenix remains determined and confident in its remaining nine games. Senior infielder Aly Quintana reflected on the mentality of the team.
“The goal for the rest of the season is to keep growing as a team and becoming stronger,” Quintana said, “We focus on one game at a time with the ultimate goal of taking the championship title.”
Before the team travels to Harrisonburg, Virginia to James Madison University, Elon has two non-conference matchups against Longwood University April 21 and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill April 22.