05/26/04 — Lady Falcons finally fall

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Lady Falcons finally fall

By David Williams
Published in Sports on May 26, 2004 1:58 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Lauren Caviness made sure her last trip to Pikeville as a prep softball player was one to remember.

The Harnett Central superstar pitcher did everything but keep score for the Trojans as Harnett Central ended the Lady Falcons season with a 1-0, 12-inning victory in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A softball playoffs.

Ashley Morris, Meredith Wilkerson and Nicole Smith

News-Argus/Dennis Hill

Aycock shortstop Ashley Morris scrambles to flip the ball to second baseman Meredith Wilkerson and force out Harnett Central pinch-runner Nicole Smith during the playoff game at Aycock on Tuesday.

The defeat closes out Aycock's season at 20-2 and shuts out the Eastern Carolina Conference champions from a fifth straight trip to the state 3-A Final Four.

Harnett Central will take on Manteo for the Final Four berth.

The game was all it was set up to be -- another classic duel between outstanding pitchers. Caviness permitted just three hits and struck out 21 Aycock hitters, while junior Jenny Jackson set down 15 Trojan hitters for the homestanding Falcons.

A total of three hits were surrendered between the two pitchers for the first seven innings, along with a total of 30 strikeouts.

"How good are these two pitchers?" said Harnett Central coach Craig Rogers. "This could very easily be two championship teams right here. I know there's some good teams out there, but C.B. Aycock was ranked number one, and for good reason."

"When you've got two pitchers like we've got pitching tonight, you've got to expect something like that," said Aycock coach David West. "Craig (Rogers) and I have talked a couple of times since Friday night. We both agreed that this was what was going to happen. It was going to come down to a 1-0 ball game, and there was going to be a hit, a mistake, something that wasn't happening in the other innings.

"Somebody was going to string something together, and that was going to do it."

The innings got longer in the hot afternoon as both teams sought a way to get that all-important run across the plate.

Harnett Central had runners on base for eight of the first nine innings, but always with one or two out. In the sixth inning the Trojans came up with a strong scoring threat as Caviness reached base with one of her four hits on the day. With one out, shortstop Ashley Morris dove to stop a grounder and flipped the ball up to force out pinch-runner Nicole Smith and blunt the threat.

Aycock had it's chances, as well.

Jackson opened the fifth inning with a short single behind first base, and took second on a bobbled play on the ball. Pinch-runner Jasmine Dobbin stole third base to get into position to score, but Caviness bore down and struck out the next two hitters to escape the inning.

In the eighth inning, April Vick opened the inning with a liner to left that was snared on a running catch by Cierra Campbell.

"If that girl hadn't have caught that, we'd have still been running," said West of Campbell's running catch in left.

Jennifer Williamson laced a one-out hit, but Caviness pounced on an errant bunt and doubled the runner off of first base.

The Trojans put together the only run of the game in the 11th, and again it was Caviness who got it going. She singled to open the inning but was forced out at second on a grounder by Brittany Sanders.

Lauren Taylor then dribbled a single down the first base line off a two-strike bunt, and Jackson was just a dash late on the ball to get her out at first.

Jamie Merrick then laid down a sacrifice bunt to get both runners into scoring position.

"How big was the two-strike bunt?" said Rogers. "That's the first time I had anybody to talk to at third base all day long."

Rayleigh Snyder then hit a routine grounder, but the throw to first was high and Sanders crossed home with the lead.

Caviness did what she does best in the bottom of the inning, striking out the final two batters to seal the game.

"She's all-state," West said of Caviness, who has committed to play at Campbell University next year. "She's all-everything right now. She knows what she's doing, She adjusted on every bunt that we tried, especially in the later innings. She knows in a bunt situation, she's going to throw it high and make us stick the bat way up there. And you're probably going to get up under the ball.

"She's the type of pitcher that can recognize everything and she adjusts for anything."

The game signaled the end of five prep careers for Aycock. April Vick, Jackie Schmidt, Jennifer Williamson, Caitlyn Thomas and Lauren Wooten will all graduate on Friday.

"It's going to be hard to replace all of them," West said.

2004 N.C. High School

Athletic Association

Class 3-A Softball Playoffs

(at Charles B. Aycock HS)

Harnett Central 000 000 000 01 -- 1 6 1

C.B. Aycock 000 000 000 00 -- 0 3 4

Leading hitters -- Harnett Central -- Lauren Caviness 4-5; Lauren Taylor 1-5; Rayleigh Snyder 1-4. C.B. Aycock -- Meredith Wilkerson 1-4; Jenny Jackson 1-3; Jennifer Williamson 1-4.


Harnett Central

Caviness (W) 11 3 0 0 0 21

C.B. Aycock

Jackson (L) 11 1 0 6 1 15