Softball tops UNCG behind three runs from freshman catcher

by Alex Hager

 

The Elon University softball team beat the University of North Carolina at Greensboro on Wednesday afternoon, topping the Spartans 7-2 under overcast skies at Hunt Softball Park.

The Phoenix got the victory behind a four-run fifth inning, scoring on a stretch of shaky pitching from UNCG. Two runs were scored on a single by freshman catcher Walker Barbee, and two more runs crossed the plate on a bases-loaded walk towards the end of the frame. Barbee had three runs on the day, including an RBI single in the third.

“It felt great,” Barbee said. “The team, the whole season, has done really well. To be able to step in today and have a big role was awesome.”

Head coach Kathy Bocock shared praise for the freshman, who made the twelfth start of her career Wednesday night.

“She stepped into her role and did exactly what she needed to do,” Bocock said. “I’m really proud of her.”

Senior left fielder Alaina Hall added a final run to put the Phoenix up 7-1 in the sixth, hitting a solo home run that just escaped over the right field fence.

Junior pitcher Kiandra Mitchum started the game for Elon, striking out three and only giving up one hit through three innings. Freshman Kenna Quinn (11-4) earned the W in the circle for the game’s final four innings.

The Spartans collected their first run in the fourth when first baseman Marisa Sholtes homered to left with the bases empty. Their second run only came in the bottom of the seventh, as a batter was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

UNCG’s Alicia Bazonski (15-2) got the loss in the contest, giving up three runs through four innings.

Wednesday’s victory marked the Phoenix’ third win over UNCG in 2017, outscoring the Spartans 29-9 through for games. After the non-conference win, Elon has a record of 29-15 on the season, and 7-5 in the Colonial Athletic Association.

They’ll look to add a few conference wins this weekend, as the team travels to Hempstead, NY for a three-game series against Hofstra, starting with a doubleheader on Saturday. Sitting at fourth in the CAA standings, the Phoenix have only ten games remaining this season, all against conference opponents.

“Our girls love competition and they love a challenge,” Bocock said. “so we’re hoping that they’re going be ready to play. The one good thing is, win or lose, they’re going to bring it all because that’s just who they are. So we’re looking forward to it.”

Phoenix sweeps JMU with complete game shutout from freshman Brnovich

by Alex Hager

The Elon University baseball team defeated James Madison University (JMU) with a score of 3-0 on Sunday afternoon at April 2 Latham Park, sweeping the Dukes in their three-game series and extending a winning streak to six.

Although the Phoenix won the first two games of the series in high-scoring affairs, Sunday’s game was decidedly a pitching duel. Elon freshman pitcher Kyle Brnovich threw a complete game shutout, only giving up two hits through his nine scoreless frames.

Brnovich carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning when JMU’s Jack Hamner singled to left, breaking up the bid. He struck out six JMU batters through his outing’s 122 pitches. The afternoon’s win moved his record to 2-2 on the season.

Even after losing the no-hit bid, Brnovich stayed in the game and didn’t appear to lose any of his early lusters.

“For me, it was just go out there and let them put the ball in play,” Brnovich said. “It’s going to take a lot for them to get a run. I’ve got a great eight guys behind me. I was very thankful they got it going out there. There was never a time in my mind I was thinking of coming out.”

Both teams’ bats were stagnant throughout the game’s early innings, with the first run of the game coming in the seventh, when sophomore shortstop Ryne Ogren hit a solo home run over on a line shot to left field, putting the Phoenix on the board. Elon added two more runs in the eighth, on hits from senior right fielder Kyle Jackson and freshman left fielder Tyler Stanley.

Just as Brnovich frustrated JMU batters, the Dukes had a weapon of their own on the mound. JMU junior Josh Silvestri put together six innings, only giving up one hit while striking out three. JMU’s loss was credited to senior Michael Evans, who gave up all three runs in the eighth on just 24 pitches.

Although Elon struggled on offense, Brnovich’s strong pitching gave the Phoenix reason to be hopeful.

“It’s really awesome to see that kid throw,” Ogren said of Brnovich’s breakout performance. “He’s a freshman, but he’s mature. He’s like a senior on the mound.”

The Phoenix have not lost since March 24 when they fell to Northeastern University at home. That loss was their only defeat in conference play, giving the Phoenix a 5-1 record in the Colonial Athletic Association.

“Winning is fun,” said head coach Mike Kennedy. “When you’re stringing the together, the energy and the confidence is at an all-time high right now. But this game will humble you real quick, and that’s the message we try to share with our guys and keep them on task.”

Elon will try to improve their overall record of 15-13 in its next two games, as the team kicks off a two-day home-and-away series against Wake Forest University. The first game of the series is on Tuesday April 4 at 6 p.m. in Winston-Salem.

Former Elon men’s soccer coach Chris Little talks about future, legacy

After six years with the Elon men’s soccer program, including three years as head coach, Chris Little is leaving his position to take a job with the Seattle Sounders Academy.

Little was at the helm of the program during the Phoenix’ transition to the Colonial Athletic Association. During his time as head coach, the team won a CAA regular season championship, earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament, and went 30-18-9.

“We have a mantra with the players, and we talk about having an opportunity to leave the jersey in a better place every year,” said Little. “I look back and ask, ‘Was I able to fulfill that in my role as a coach?’ We’ve won five championships in the last seven years, and four NCAA tournament [appearances]. I look at the team now and it’s an incredibly talented team that’s very young and is set up and destined for success in the next couple of years. I feel as though I can hold my head up and say, ‘I’ve given it my best shot and I’m leaving it in a better place.'”

Little’s next job will take him to Seattle, where he will serve as director of coaching for the Seattle Sounders developmental academy. The Sounders are the reigning champions of Major League Soccer.

“There was a lot of things that contributed to the decision, but the core of the decision is a family one,” said Little. “After deliberating with my wife, weighing everything, we thought it would be a really good opportunity for our family.”

Little added that the decision was made “with a heavy heart.”

Little departure marks the second time in a row that an Elon head coach has left for an MLS academy job. Darren Powell left Elon in 2013 to lead the academy for Orlando City SC.

Watch the full interview with Little below.