In its annual Strike Out Cancer game, the Elon University softball team faced another conference opponent in Towson for the rubber match of the three-game series and defeated the Tigers 12-4 in five innings. The game started off with a ceremonial first pitch by breast cancer survivor Ashanti Marshall, representing the Burlington-based nonprofit Little Pink Houses of Hope.

After splitting the double header yesterday and pulling off the comeback win in game two, head coach Kathy Bocock said her team was ready to play.

“I knew that they were ready,” Bocock said. “I could tell when they came into the clubhouse today, they were ready to go. I just know them, and I know their feel.”

The intermittent rain, causing a game delay, didn't stop the fans from filling the seats at Hunt Softball Park.

The game started off with senior Kaitlin King pitching for the Phoenix in her first start of the season. After a Towson single, senior first baseman Claudia Penny stretched for the ball and crashed into the fence to get the big third out to help King get out of the inning. Bocock saw this play as Penny just doing her job.

“I think the catch over against the fence was probably as big a play as any because it got us out of their opportunity to score some runs,” Bocock said.

Although delayed due to the storm, the rain never stopped in the game. Elon poured in 12 runs on 12 hits in the five-inning matchup and never let up. The scoring started early with Penny bringing in three runs off a blast to home run hill. 

“I just shot my pitch and when it was there, I swung and just did everything Coach Borden has taught me to do over the past four years, and I think it got put together really well,” Penny said.

Senior catcher Carley Davis, senior shortstop Bella Devesa and sophomore designated player Kaitlyn Wells all joined the party with doubles of their own to bring the score to 5-0 at the bottom of the first. Bocock was proud of the spark the offense provided to start the game off strong.

“That’s the thing that we just needed,” Bocock said. “To say, ‘Hey, we’re coming at you,’ and that’s what they did. The girls were coming to get you.”

King gave up two runs in the top of the second as Towson worked to answer Elon’s huge half inning. Sophomore McKenna McCard stepped into the circle for the Phoenix for relief. McCard had the upper hand with Elon leading but had to work to escape a bases loaded jam. After a Towson two RBI single, the defense closed out the inning, still up by three.

“We have a lot of success when we score first because it allows the pitchers to have a little more wiggle room, and I think we did a really good job of doing that for them,” Penny said.

With Elon’s top of the order up, both senior second baseman Megan Grant and senior right fielder Drew Menscer reached on walks. Sophomore third baseman Allee Seering had a single that brought Penny back up to the plate. Penny smacked a single into right field that would be difficult for Towson’s player to handle. The single and the error cleared the bases, giving Penny her sixth RBI of the day and increasing the lead to 8-2.

McCard took advantage of that wiggle room and sat down three of the four batters she faced in the third. Elon was ready to widen the gap going into the bottom of the third.

In her second at-bat, Wells looked to capitalize on the momentum from her first. Wells then hit her own solo home run over the right field wall — her second of the series and second in her career. 

To open the fourth, Towson had two singles but couldn’t make any runs out of them. 

After being hit by the pitch, Seering took her base. Penny, back in the box, hit a double far into the outfield to bring in another run. Her seven RBIs on the day was a big moment, as the last time an Elon player achieved this milestone was over a decade ago in 2012. While enjoying her own success, Penny emphasized the importance of her team playing well.

“We try to make history everyday here,” Penny said. “We made the conference championship again last year, and we want to do it again this year. There's great individual success, but I think the team really secured that one, and that was the most important thing today.”

Wells was the second half of the dynamic duo, adding on an RBI single. Both Penny and Wells were both just one triple away from hitting for the cycle. Going into the fifth, the score was 11-2.

Elon was three outs away from winning by run rule in the fifth inning. Towson would not go easily. The Tigers had three singles in a row, and after a sacrifice fly, the Phoenix would be forced to win with their offense. 

In the bottom of the frame, Elon strategized on how to get those much needed final runs in to close out the game. Penny walked, seeing four balls in a row and moved Seering to second. Davis’s single would load the bases for Devesa. 

“I knew that all the people behind me could get it done,” Penny said. “When Bella got up, I was like, ‘I know she’s going to do her job here.’ And with Allee Seering on third and to do exactly what she did to tag right, we knew we were going to score that run.”

All Elon needed to do was put the ball far enough into play. Devesa popped one up that was caught just out of the infield. Then, Seering was off to the races. Diving into home and beating the catch, Seering scored the game-winning run, ending the match with a final score of 12-4. 

Bocock looks forward to bringing this energy and the lessons learned from the series to the next conference opponent, Hampton University, over the weekend.

“That’s all we can do is just come out and have another good week and get ready for these road games and just hope for the best,” Bocock said.