When junior Meredith Wells entered to pitch in top of the fourth inning for the Elon University softball team against Stony Brook University on Friday, she inherited a challenging situation.

With the Phoenix ahead 6-2, Wells came into the game in relief of sophomore Taylor Cherry. The Seawolves had the bases loaded with just one out, with the batter representing the tying run. Despite immediately being faced with an adverse situation, Wells said she was confident she could navigate the Phoenix out of the jam. 

“I just wanted to attack the hitters and make them put the ball in play,” Wells said. “I knew my team would have my back behind me to make those plays at any bag.”

Attack is what Wells did, as she forced the first batter she faced into a fielder’s choice that saw sophomore third baseman Allee Seering secure the second out of the inning with a throw to home plate. Needing just one more out to escape, Wells forced another ground ball out that ended the inning and kept Elon’s lead at four runs.

Wells’ two outs proved to be the key moment of the game, as Elon allowed just one more base runner in the final three innings on the way to a 6-2 win in its first Colonial Athletic Association game of the season. 

For Wells, who was credited with the win after throwing 3 2/3 one-hit innings, it was important to get off to a winning start in CAA play. 

“We were super excited to open up conference play, especially since we’re at home this weekend,” Wells said. “We knew we were going to have to come into CAA play and really be aggressive both offensively and on the defensive side. I feel like we put that together today.”

After sophomore pitcher McKenna McCard struck out the final two Stony Brook batters to end the opening inning, Elon’s offense went to work. With two outs and senior right fielder Drew Menscer on second base, senior first baseman Claudia Penny stepped up to the plate. 

During her first three seasons at Elon, Penny was not a regular starter. However, the senior has enjoyed a breakout campaign as an everyday starter in 2023, as she entered Friday’s game leading the team in RBI, batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. 

On the fourth pitch of her at-bat, Penny launched the ball over the left field fence for her third home run of the season, giving Elon a 2-0 lead. It marked the second straight game the Phoenix hit a two-run homer to left field in the opening inning, as Seering did the same against Detroit Mercy on March 7. 

“It was good to attack early and get some momentum going,” Penny said. “I was ready to do it for the team.” 

Penny entered the season with four career home runs and is now just one away from matching that total in 2023 after just 21 games. Head coach Kathy Bocock said she is happy to see Penny break out this season and attributes her success to her work ethic. 

“Claudia has the potential, and she is a hard worker,” Bocock said. “This year, she’s had opportunity and she has grabbed hold of it and is running with it. I’m really proud of her.” 

In its last two games, Elon has compiled 15 runs on 15 hits, which includes a pair of home runs. With two hits against the Seawolves, senior shortstop Bella Devesa posted her fifth multi-hit game of the season, surpassing her total of four from last season. Devesa also had an RBI. Senior catcher Carley Davis drove in Elon’s other three runs with a double in the fourth inning.  

Penny said Elon’s offensive success against the Seawolves was in large part due to a good week of practice and preparation. 

“We were really loose and ready coming into today,” Penny said. “We were really prepared and ready to go. The offense really took control, and the pitching did on the other side as well.”

This was the sixth time this season Elon has scored more than five runs in a game and the second in a row. Wells said having the offense provide that much run support helps the pitching staff.

“We know they have our back, so when they’re putting up runs on the board, it makes our job a little bit easier,” Wells said.

Elon will face Stony Brook two more times tomorrow to close out its opening weekend of conference play. Bocock said the team is focused on delivering another strong performance in the first game to secure a series victory. 

“We’ve got to attack the first game,” Bocock said. “We’re not going to worry about that second game yet. We’re just going to come out and try to attack the first one.”