With the Elon University softball team down 7-3 in the bottom of the sixth inning against the North Carolina Central University Eagles on Friday, freshman infielder Mauri Murray stepped to the plate as a pinch hitter for her second career at-bat.
With runners on first and second and only one out, Murray had a chance to make an impact play off the bench in just her second college game.
“I was preparing for the moment,” Murray said. “I was ready. I had a plan going up there – see ball, hit ball.”
Murray did exactly that, ripping a ground ball directly at Central’s shortstop. From there, chaos ensued, as the ball bounced off the shortstop and past the centerfielder, allowing Murray and the other two Elon runners to score and make it 7-6 in favor of Central. The play was ruled an inside-the-park home run for the freshman.
“I just saw the pitch was outside corner and then I just swung on it, and as I was running around the bases, I was going and I saw the ball trailing to the fence and I was like, “Oh, I’ve got to pick it up,’” Murray said.
Murray also had an at-bat as a pinch hitter in Elon’s 4-0 loss to Winthrop University earlier in the day. With the game on the line against Central, head coach Kathy Bocock put her trust in the freshman.
“She is a very, very talented young lady,” Bocock said. “She just believes and she puts the ball in play and can make things happen for us. She stepped up and she made a play. She did what she needed to do and they made a mistake. You’ve got to take care of those when they make a mistake.”
While the play seemingly handed Elon the momentum, the Phoenix still trailed by a run. That deficit did not last long, as after a double by senior first baseman Claudia Penny and a groundout by sophomore third baseman Allee Seering, sophomore left fielder Reagan Hartley tied the game at 7-7 with an RBI triple.
With the game tied for the first time since it was 3-3 in the fourth, senior right fielder Drew Menscer stepped to the plate with two outs and Hartley on third. She delivered a single up the middle on the first pitch of the at-bat to score Hartley and give the Phoenix an 8-7 lead.
Menscer said she made an adjustment in her final at-bat which helped her deliver the go-ahead RBI.
“She was throwing me low all game and so I knew I had to make an adjustment, I knew I could put it in the ground,” Menscer said. “I was hoping to get in the ground, pop it over somebody and hope for the best.”
Senior pitcher Kaitlin King retired North Carolina Central in order in the bottom of the seventh to end the game, securing the dramatic 8-7 comeback victory for the Phoenix.
For Menscer, the comeback was a testament to the team’s resolve and mental fortitude.
“We’re definitely not a team that’s going to lay down,” Menscer said. “We’re definitely going to fight and I think we showed that.”
Elon only had 30 minutes to get ready for its second game of the day after losing to Winthrop. Bocock said she had a simple message for the team during that time.
“I said to the team that this wasn’t our 10th loss, this was the first game of the season,” Bocock said. “They’ve got a lot of experience coming back.”
While Bocock said the team will look to clean up certain areas going forward, she was pleased with how the team overcame adverse situations and believes this comeback will help the team’s confidence.
“They did a really good job not giving up and they stayed focused and positive with one another,” Bocock said.
Elon will play two more games tomorrow against Winthrop and Morgan State University as part of its home tournament, the Elon Softball Classic.