Sports

Softball captures program’s first CAA crown

ELON, North Carolina – Propelled by an eight-run fifth inning, highlighted by a batting grand slam of Marie SobatakaThe third-seeded UNCW softball team captured its first Colonial Athletic Association championship with a convincing 10-2 victory over fourth-seeded Elon at Hunt Softball Park on Saturday.

Sobataka’s second career grand slam was one of three season-high homers hit by the Seahawks, 32-13, as they advanced to their first NCAA Regional. The Phoenix, which won two playoff games on Friday, fell to 30-22 overall.

UNCW will learn its postseason destination in the NCAA draft show Sunday at 7 p.m. A special viewing party will be held at the Walk-On’s Bar and Grill on Oleander Drive, starting one hour before the show.

“This team, from start to finish, faced challenges and adversity but continued to be a strong team,” said UNCW 10andOne year head coach Kristy Norton. “Every member of this team played selflessly. This championship is well deserved by each of these phenomenal young women.”

UNCW tied a season-high 12 hits, including seven in the deciding fifth inning. Led 2-1, seniors Camryn Dean started the frame with a home run to the center straight away that tied the game. Following a height change, Skylar Stockton and Taylor Vitola slapped back to back in singles to put two. Senior Janel Gamache then walked on four consecutive pitches to charge the bases with no outs.

First-year student Mackenzie Amodeo fired the first pitch she saw down the left side, which ricocheted off Elon’s Bella Devesa and tackled the second run of the inning. Morgan Britt doubled the left field line a batter later to score Vitola and Gamache, still without any outs. Anna Knox was hit by a pitch to load the bases again.

With the count 2-2, Sobataka opened the game with his grand slam that cleared the scoreboard in center field to make it 9-2. The Coastal Carolina transfer bypassed the bases for the third time this season and was greeted by a boisterous herd of Seahawks at home plate.

Gamache started the sixth with a single to right center. Amodeo then anchored on picking a defender and was caught off guard by Lauren Cope. The next batter, Britt, hit the fifth pitch off the deep center that bounced off the wall. Cope ran from first and slipped in just before Elon’s final throw throw to send the Seahawks into a championship winning frenzy.

First-year student Emily Winstead won the CAA Top Performer award with her second win of the tournament. The league’s pitcher of the year pitched five innings, allowing no earned runs, and struck out five. Kara Hammockwho was named to the All-Tournament Team, blocked the final three outs to set up the sixth winner.

Elon took two runs on two Seahawk errors early in the first. After a circle visit, Winstead retired Elon’s next two hitters, Chloe Hatzopoulos and Devasa, to end the frame.

Britt started bottom of fourth with his first career homer to draw the Seahawks to a single run.

The Phoenix charged in the top of the fifth with an error and a pair of two-out singles. With the sacks full, Winstead hit Hatzopoulos swinging to end Elon’s biggest threat.

PLAY NOTES: The Seahawks held each opponent to two points or less in three CAA tournament games… A third seed won the CAA title for the first time… UNCW is 5-0 in neutral-site games… Nine Seahawks recorded a hit…Hammock and Winstead threw every outing for UNCW in the tournament…Seahawks held opponents to two runs or less 27 times…Sobataka and Britt combined for eight of the Seahawks 10 RBI…Winstead lowered his ERA at 1.60.

CAA Softball All-Tournament Team

Emily WinsteadUNCW (Most Outstanding Performer)

Morgan BrittUNCW

Kara HammockUNCW

Janel GamacheUNCW

Carley Davis, Elon
Chloe Hatzapolous, Elon
McKenna McCard, Elon
Halle Kisamore, Delaware
Emily Winburn, Delaware
Mia Dittoe, Charleston
Noel Dominguez, Charleston


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