The Elon University softball team stepped onto the field for the first time in the 2023 regular season playing in the Elon Softball Classic tournament Feb. 10 to to 11. The team has played four games so far — two against Winthrop University, one against North Carolina Central University and one against Morgan State University — and finished 1-3 with its only win coming against NC Central.
Despite this outcome, the young team still has a lot of potential and growth for the season ahead. Head coach Kathy Bocock said that she’s looking forward to this year’s season, keeping in mind that the team still has more work to put in.
“We've got to clean some things up, but they were so excited about playing and we ended up having a beautiful day,” Bocock said.
Four freshmen additions have been preparing with the team during the off-season and have now finally made their softball college debut. Freshman utility Mauri Murray made her first college at-bats pinch hitting against Winthrop University and North Carolina Central University on Feb. 10. After practicing in the off season, Murray said she was excited to finally be on the field.
“I've been ready and I've been prepared,” Murray said. “We've been working since August, so it was fun to finally be on the field for a game.”
In her second ever at-bat Feb. 10 against NC Central, Murray nailed a line drive up the middle, splitting the outfielders and rolling all the way to the fence. Murray let her speed carry her home for an inside-the-park homerun and three RBIs.
Bocock said she was thrilled to see Murray’s enthusiasm and skills show during the game.
“When you have young players, they’re just waiting for that opportunity and they’ve got a lot of good energy,” Bocock said. “So when they’re in that moment, it's a great opportunity to give them that chance, but knowing that they can do it as well. They bring that energy to you, and good things happen.”
Senior utility Drew Menscer stepped onto the field for her fourth season with the Phoenix. She said she was proud of the team’s resilience against NC Central, winning after an initial four-run deficit. She said she believes that their winning performance will be able to translate throughout the rest of the season throughout the rest of the season.
“It definitely shows we have some fight,” Menscer said. “We bounced back, we didn't lay down. Coming back like that, it shows a lot throughout the season, and we will be able to accomplish a lot.”
The Phoenix were predicted to place fourth in the Colonial Athletic Association preseason polls. Sophomore pitcher and first baseman McKenna McCard and junior middle infielder and third baseman Gabi Schaal were named to the preseason watch list, showing promise for the team.
Bocock was pleased with the softball team’s opening for this year’s season, but she’s hoping to tighten up and move the team forward.
“They did a good job of never giving up,” Bocock said. “They stayed focused, they stayed positive with one another, which I like, because I’m a believer that the game’s not over until it's over.”
The Phoenix also debuted new uniforms in their season opener, which is one way to boost and push the team’s confidence.
“They looked sharp and the girls looked sharp in them,” Bocock said. “That just adds a little pep in their step. It’s great to be back, and we’re ready.”