RALEIGH – Throughout her four years as a member of the Elon University softball team, Rebecca Murray was known for her signature speed. After a leadoff single, Murray, now the starting center fielder for North Carolina State University, had her eyes on second base.
Murray made 167 starts over the last four years with Elon and stole 41 bases in her Phoenix career, including 26 last season, which was tied for the most in the Colonial Athletic Association. With no outs in the bottom of the first, the fifth-year outfielder took off, looking for her second stolen base as a member of the Wolfpack.
With Murray bolting for second, senior catcher Carley Davis launched the ball toward fellow senior Megan Grant at second base. Davis, Grant and Murray were teammates the last three seasons at Elon, appearing in 113 games together. As Murray slid into second, Grant laid down a tag on her former teammate just in time to get the game’s first out.
“Carley and Rebecca are good friends, and Carley knew she’d probably try to go,” head coach Kathy Bocock said. “It was one of the best throws I’ve ever seen Carley make.”
Though Murray was caught stealing to open the game, the former Phoenix had the last laugh, making her presence felt later on. Murray delivered two hits and two walks in four at-bats, as the Wolfpack went on to defeat Elon 11-3 in five innings.
Murray, who graduated from Elon last spring with a degree in psychology, transferred to NC State to pursue the university’s sports psychology program. Bocock said she still talks to Murray on the phone and is happy she is doing well at State.
“I’m glad to see that she’s moving on with her education,” Bocock said. “I’d love to have her but it was a good choice for her to keep continuing to grow with her education.”
After Murray was tagged out at second in the first inning, the Wolfpack tallied a walk and a double, leading Elon to replace sophomore pitcher
Taylor Cherry with sophomore Isley Duggins, who got the Phoenix out of the jam without allowing a run.
However, NC State broke the game open in the bottom of the second, scoring five runs. The first came on a bases-loaded walk to Murray and the next four on a grand slam.
The Wolfpack led off the bottom of the third with another home run against Duggins to go ahead 6-0. After a walk by Duggins, senior Kaitlin King and freshman Michaela Hobson finished off the inning for Elon, which trailed 7-0 entering the fourth.
Five of Elon’s six pitchers saw action in the shortened game. With Elon set to play five games this weekend at the Liberty Softball Classic, Bocock said it was her plan coming into the game to have all her pitchers throw.
“We were trying to throw them because with getting ready to go into the weekend, sometimes they need to see some live batters,” Bocock said. “We stuck to our game plan regardless of what happened.”
After scoring its first run of the game in the top of the fourth, Elon rallied in the top of the fifth, scoring two runs on a pinch-hit single by senior first baseman and reigning CAA Player of the Week Claudia Penny.
The Phoenix did not get a chance to bat again, as the Wolfpack connected on its third home run of the night in the bottom of the fifth to go ahead 10-3 before Elon had retired a single State batter. With junior Meredith Wells pitching, State delivered a walk-off single, as the run put the Wolfpack up by eight before the end of the fifth inning, enabling the mercy rule and ending the game.
NC State finished the night with 14 hits in five innings, as four of Elon’s five pitchers on the night allowed multiple hits. Elon also walked a season-high eight batters. Penny led the Phoenix with two hits in three appearances at the plate.
This was Elon’s second midweek game against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent this season, as the Phoenix fell to the University of North Carolina on a walk-off grand slam Feb. 15.
“These midweek games, they are really important,” Bocock said. “When we don’t come ready, it can hurt you.”
Elon will play in its final regular season tournament of the season next weekend, with five games against Princeton University, Northern Illinois University, Marshall University and Liberty University in three days.
“We need to keep growing and playing better,” Bocock said. “We’re going to have our hands full this weekend with some really good competition and we’ve got to come out and play.”