Fresh off its first conference win of the season against College of Charleston last weekend, the Elon University softball team hosted a Saturday doubleheader against the Drexel University Dragons, winning the first game 4-2 and the second game 9-6.
In game one, freshman pitcher McKenna McCard started and was able to keep the Dragons off the board for the first two innings. In the bottom of the second, senior designated player Megan White hit an RBI single to score junior catcher Carley Davis, putting the Phoenix up 1-0. Later in the inning, a sacrifice fly from senior first baseman Keagan Goldwait scored freshman left fielder Chloe Hatzopoulos, to make the score 2-0. Junior right fielder Drew Menscer tried to bring White home, but struck out to end the inning.
The third inning did not go as well for McCard. After throwing a walk to start the inning to Drexel’s senior right fielder Sarah Clinton, she was brought home by senior first baseman Kristi DiMeo to make the score 2-1. McCard was then switched out with senior pitcher Alexa Nemeth.
In an effort to catch an opponent's foul ball in the top of the fourth inning, sophomore third baseman Gabi Schaal slipped and slammed into the outfield fence. When trying to stand up, Schaal collapsed, seemingly dealing with pain in her left leg or knee. Freshman Allee Seering subbed in for the rest of the inning while Schaal was taken off the field. She was later seen with crutches and her leg wrapped to her knee. Elon did not have an update on her status after the game.
Head coach Kathy Bocock said she has built her team up with not only great starters, but great role players such as pinch runners and hitters as well as subs like Seering to maintain consistency throughout their lineup.
“Those guys have to come in to fill a role, and if we don’t have them, we don’t win,” Bocock said. ”Roles are so important in this game and in a team sport it’s the role players that I think can take you over the top.”
Both teams struggled to bring runners home until the bottom of the fifth, when
Hatzopoulos hit a home run that scored Goldwait to make the score 4-1.
At the end of the fifth inning, during the traditional singing of “Take Me Out to The Ball Game”, Elon used its platform to raise awareness for the Play4Kay Foundation. Named for Kay Yow, Elon’s first women’s basketball coach and member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. The Play4Kay foundation seeks to bring communities together and honor cancer warriors in the fight against all different types of cancer.
“We don't just play for ourselves, there are so many people out there struggling,” Bocock said. “We're always going to support any group that we need to.”
Drexel added a run in the sixth inning, but the Phoenix won the game 4-2, as Nemeth got all three outs for Elon in the top of the seventh.
Senior pitcher McKenzie Weber started the second game and faced pressure from Drexel in the third inning, when an error at first base left base runners on first and third. However, Elon’s defense responded with a double play to escape the inning with no runs allowed.
An RBI single to center field from Davis in the bottom of the third put Elon ahead 1-0 as Menscer scored.
The Dragons tied the game in the top of the fourth when another error at first base during a double play attempt gave them just what they needed to score their first run of the game and tie the score at 1-1.
After nearly two innings of no scoring by either team, a mistake by Drexel’s pitcher in the bottom of the sixth gave senior pinch hitter Raelyn McGarry the time she needed to run home from third base and give the Phoenix a 2-1 lead. That one run was the push the Phoenix needed to overpower the tired Drexel defense, as Elon Phoenix put four more runs on the board after that, leading 6-1 at the end of the inning.
Freshman Taylor Cherry entered to pitch for Elon in the seventh, but mistakes by the team’s defense loaded the bases for Drexel. A pitch by Cherry slipped out of Davis’ hands, allowing a Drexel run, making the score 6-2. One strike away from losing the game, Drexel sophomore infielder Ashley Errico hit a grand slam to tie the game at 6-6.
After throwing two walks in the top of the seventh, Drexel switched pitchers to try and keep the Phoenix at bay. But there was no stopping Seering, who hit a walkoff three-run home run to end the game.
Seering, whose walkoff home run was the first of her career, said that despite having a lot of pressure on her, especially as a freshman, she felt calm at home plate thanks to the trust and support from her coaches and teammates.
“I was calm in that situation because of my teammates, I know they have my back,” Seering said.
The Phoenix return to Hunt Softball Park tomorrow at 1 p.m. for the final game of the series against the Dragons.