The Elon University softball team split a doubleheader against the University of North Carolina Wilmington Seahawks on Saturday afternoon, winning game one 6-1 and losing game two 2-1 at Hunt Softball Park. The team also hosted its annual alumni weekend with team alumni taking the field in their former position for the National Anthem.
Head coach Kathy Bocock spoke highly of the alumni base and was very appreciative of those who were able to go to the games today. She emphasized how important the former players have been to the long-term success of the program.
“We have some great young ladies and some great student-athletes,” Bocock said. "They're all doing great things out there in the world, and I can't be prouder of them. I'm so glad they're back.”
The Phoenix wasted no time in game one, quickly pouring on five runs by the end of the second inning.
“They were ready for them to come back,” Bocock said. “We didn't have to do a lot to get them motivated to play, but they're like that for every series.”
The Phoenix fell to the Seahawks in last year’s Colonial Athletic Association championship final. Sophomore pitcher McKenna McCard said the team had been eagerly awaiting the opportunity for a rematch that ended on their terms.
“We tried to not let what happened last year affect us,” McCard said. “Knowing that they came here to our home to try and beat us really lit a fire under us.”
With impressive pitching by McCard and a fantastic sliding defensive putout from sophomore outfielder Reagan Hartley, the Phoenix headed into the bottom of the first seemingly oozing with confidence. McCard played the whole game and only allowed two hits. Senior catcher Carley Davis converted a pair of runs on a double into left-center as senior outfielder Drew Menscer and sophomore outfielder Chloe Hatzopoulos scored to put Elon up 2-0.
The Phoenix offensive onslaught continued as Elon scored three more runs in the second inning to extend their lead to 5-0. A free pass from Menscer and sacrifice flies from sophomore second baseman Allee Seering and senior first baseman Claudia Penny allowed the Phoenix to take a commanding lead.
Both clubs went quiet until the fifth inning, as they combined for just two hits in the third and fourth. The Seahawks' first and only run of game one came off a solo home run to left field. However, this did not rattle the Phoenix at all, as in the bottom of the frame, sophomore outfielder Kaitlyn Wells grounded out to second base, which allowed Davis to score and put the Phoenix up 6-1.
The second affair of the day was far tighter. The Phoenix had every chance to win up until the bottom of the seventh, but could never get the bats going, as the team registered just three hits. While Elon took a 1-0 lead early in the first due to a Davis double to left field, which brought senior third baseman Megan Grant home, the Phoenix was held scoreless the rest of the afternoon.
The Seahawks tied the game in the top of the second. Elon committed two errors in the fifth inning which resulted in UNCW’s second run of the night to put them ahead for good.
Against all odds, Elon managed to claw back into the second game at the end to give themselves a possible chance at winning with players on two bases with two outs. Yet, the Phoenix fell just short of an improbable comeback off a sac bunt.
With their win and loss today, the Phoenix moves to 16-21 on the season and 9-4 in conference play. Elon now sits in third place in the CAA standings trailing just UNCW and Delaware.
“Our team goal right now is to be number one in the rankings,” McCard said. “We want to go into the tournament being ranked number one because we will be there.”
After the second game, the alumni and some infamous home run hill dads in attendance participated in a home run derby.
Bocock even took her turn at bat and got in a few swings. She was very confident in her pitching abilities too. She said she wasn’t sure if the alumni and current players were going to be able to handle her skillset.
“I am excited to throw a few pitches to them,” Bocock said. “I think I can throw it wherever I need to where they won’t even hit one ball out of the park.”
The Phoenix look to wrap up the final game of their weekend series against the Seahawks (18-21, 12-5) at Hunt Softball Park tomorrow at 1 p.m.