Murphy Powers Longwood Past Elon, 6-3

Published 1:17 pm Thursday, April 23, 2015

ELON, NC — Emily Murphy was moved to cleanup in the batting order and responded with two home runs, as Longwood softball defeated Elon, 6-3, in its final nonconference game of the season Tuesday at Hunt Softball Park.

Murphy went 2-for-3 at the plate and homered twice in a game for the third time this season. She scored two runs and joins Megan Baltzell as the second Lancer to notch five or more RBI in a game this season. The junior shortstop was one of three different Lancers to record two hits in the game, as Jamie Barbour and Katie Shinrock each recorded two hits apiece. Barbour — who was moved to the two-hole in the batting order — also notched a pair of runs scored to go along with an RBI.

“We wanted to give Megan (Baltzell) a little more protection,” said head coach Kathy Riley. “Emily has really been swinging the bat better the past couple of weeks, so we thought we'd move her to cleanup. We were also looking for someone to make good contact in that two-hole and felt like Jaime could do a real nice job and she responded real well for us.”

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In the circle, Elizabeth McCarthy (18-12) earned the win, allowing three runs on six hits and a pair of walks in 4.1 innings. She gave way to Libby Morris, who pitched in her first game since March 25 at Virginia Tech.

The senior earned her 300th career strikeout, as she is sixth in the school record books in career strikeouts — just behind her teammate McCarthy. Morris was credited with the save, giving up just a pair of hits in 2.2 innings of work to go along with two walks and four strikeouts.

“For the first time pitching in almost a month, she did a real nice job for us,” Riley said. “The most impressive part was when she got down in the count and she was able to come back to get those hitters out. The last two or three hitters, she actually got ahead of those hitters and that was good to see.”

The win also moved Longwood's record back to the .500 mark for the season for the first time since the squad was 2-2 on Feb. 7, as the Lancers improve to 23-23. In Riley's tenure at Longwood, she has never had a team finish below the .500 mark. Meanwhile, Elon falls to 26-16 on the campaign.

The Lancers struck first in the opening inning courtesy of a three-run home run off the bat of Murphy. After a Jaime Barbour single to third base, Megan Baltzell reached base safely for the seventh straight game after a one-out walk. Murphy — who batted cleanup for the first time this season — blasted her 10th homer of the season to give the Lancers the early lead.

“Obviously, that first home run helped in terms of providing protection for Megan like we wanted,” Riley said. “Once she hit that home run, Megan got pitched to twice. I think in the long run that's the type of thing that will help us out quite a bit. I trust Chelsea [Sciacca] too and when she gets going, she's an outstanding hitter when she gets hot.”

Elon was able to plate a pair of runs in the third inning following an Alaina Hall single to right center to score Hannah Olsen. Hall later came around to score later in the inning after an RBI single to right center from Aly Quintana.

Following a leadoff single from Katie Shinrock, Justina Augustine advanced her to second base and Barbour brought the senior home with her second base hit of the day. Two batters later, Murphy belted a 1-1 pitch to right center field for her second homer of the day.

Morris relieved McCarthy with one on and one out in the bottom of the inning. Hall – the first batter she faced — reached base on an error from Barbour. Kara Shutt singled to right field in an 11-pitch at-bat to score Madison Kadlic.

With the cancellation of Wednesday's doubleheader against James Madison, Longwood returns to Lancer Field for its final home series of the season against Charleston Southern. The two teams will play a doubleheader Saturday at 1 p.m., before the squad's five seniors play their final home contest Sunday.