Topping Friday’s performance was not going to be easy for Chloe Hatzopoulos, but she came mighty close.
After Hatzopoulos belted three home runs and tallied nine RBIs in a pair of wins for the Elon University softball team over North Carolina A&T University on Friday, the sophomore left fielder followed it up in Saturday’s regular season finale with another two home runs and three more RBIs in a 10-5 victory.
“We really came out hot, just feeling that same energy from yesterday as a team,” Hatzopoulos said. “Our energy was up and that definitely helped us win the game.”
Hatzopoulos entered the weekend with six home runs on the season. She nearly matched that total in Elon’s three-game series against the Aggies. She finishes the regular season with 11 home runs, the third most in the Colonial Athletic Association.
After the teams both scored a run in the first inning, Hatzopoulos came to the plate with senior shortstop Bella Devesa on base. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Hatzopoulos crushed the ball over the center-field fence to give the Phoenix a 3-1 lead.
“I was just trying to keep it simple and not think too much,” Hatzopoulos said. “I just wanted to see my pitch and hit my pitch.”
With the game well in hand, Hatzopoulos launched another home run, this time a solo shot to center field in the top of the seventh. She pointed to center field as she ran to first base as she knew immediately it was gone.
“She had a great weekend,” head coach Kathy Bocock said. “We just tell her to keep it simple. We’re really proud of her.”
Hatzopoulos was not the only Elon batter to have a productive day at the plate, as senior second baseman Megan Grant plated a team-high five RBIs, three of which came on a two-out triple in the top of the fourth inning that stretched Elon’s lead to 7-1. It was her first triple of the season. Grant brought in two more runs in the sixth with a double to make the score 9-2.
In the three games this weekend against the Aggies, Elon delivered 31 runs on 31 hits. Eight different Phoenix players had at least one RBI. With the opportunity to earn as high as the No. 2 seed in next week’s CAA tournament with a win, Grant said the team was motivated to have a strong performance.
“We knew we had to come out here and win,” Grant said. “We were all just coming up to the plate and attacking the best we could.”
Sophomore Isley Duggins started in the circle for the Phoenix and threw four innings, allowing two runs. Senior Kaitlin King took the ball in the fifth and secured five outs for the Phoenix.
After King picked up the second out in the bottom of the sixth, Bocock took the senior out of the game. As King walked off the field, she shared an emotional hug with her coach on the field and several more with her teammates in the dugout.
King has pitched just 21 innings in 14 appearances this season. Bocock said she wanted to make sure King got a moment of recognition in the final regular season game of her career.
“She deserved it,” Bocock said. “She’s worked really hard and she’s always been a great teammate. I was glad we were able to give her that moment.”
Bocock said she wanted to do similar recognitions for Devesa and first baseman Claudia Penny, Elon’s other two seniors that will not be returning next season, but a seventh-inning rally from North Carolina A&T that saw the Aggies pull to within 10-5 prevented her from doing so.
This was Elon’s second CAA sweep of the season and its first since its opening series of the season against Stony Brook University in early March. The only time in the series against the Aggies the score was tied at anything other than 0-0 was when North Carolina A&T tied the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the first on Saturday.
Despite the win, Elon did not get the help it needed to move up in the standings, as Hofstra University and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington won Saturday to secure the Nos 2 and 3 seeds. Elon will be the No. 4 seed at the CAA tournament and will play either Towson University or North Carolina A&T on May 10.
Elon advanced to the CAA championship series as the No. 4 seed at last year’s tournament. Grant said the team’s weekend performance will give the team confidence going into next week.
“This weekend, we showed that as long as we stay consistent and trust ourselves, we can come out and win in big ways,” Grant said.