05/27/04 — Softball playoffs -- Lady Hawks move on

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Softball playoffs -- Lady Hawks move on

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 27, 2004 1:56 PM

LAGRANGE -- Relax and throw.

Take one pitch at a time.

Count on the defense to make the play.

Hermia Humphrey quietly noticed all those phrases moving through her mind as she and her North Lenoir teammates faced their toughest challenge of the season Wednesday evening. Two-time Mid-State champion Randleman owned a 2-1 lead after three innings and seemed poise to upset the state-ranked Hawks on their own softball diamond.

Humphrey didn't quit. Neither did her teammates.

Randi Moulton and Crissie Fuir

News-Argus/Dennis Hill

North Lenoir's Randi Moulton is safe after stretching a hit into a triple against Randleman on Wednesday at North Lenoir. Randleman third baseman Crissie Fuir attempts to make the tag.

The soft-spoken right-hander maintained her poise and retired the final 13 batters she faced. Ashley Griffin delivered a game-winning bloop single in the fourth inning, staking the Hawks to a come-from-behind 3-2 victory before a standing-room-only crowd.

With the win, North Lenoir (24-2) earned its second straight trip to the N.C. High School Athletic Association eastern semifinals. The Hawks oppose Mid-State runner-up Graham in a contest tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday.

Randleman concluded the season 23-3.

"These girls just don't give up," Hawks coach Heather Humphrey said.

Down 1-0, the Tigers' Jessica Small erased Hermia's no-hit bid with a two-out single in the third. Catcher Michelle Jones followed with a single and a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position.

Crissie Fuir drilled a single up the middle, scoring Small and Jones for a 2-1 advantage.

"I've always been told don't show your emotions on the mound," the younger Humphrey said. "She (Heather) said 'just pitch'; throw it to Randi (Moulton). The low outside pitch was working and finally my change-up started working.

"It wasn't working at the beginning and I was worried about that."

After Fuir's single, Humphrey induced an inning-ending ground ball from designated player Morgan Vickers. A Randleman player wouldn't reach base safely again as Humphrey (15-1) threw four consecutive perfect innings.

The Tigers struck out twice, hit into eight ground-ball outs, flew out once in the infield and ended the sixth inning when center fielder Rachel Cromer tracked down a line-drive shot by Vickers.

"I knew my defense was behind me," a confident Humphrey said.

Shut out in its half of the third, North Lenoir answered with a two-run rally in the fourth.

Moulton slapped a lead-off triple to left center field and scored on Morgan Worthington's game-tying single to left field. Cromer kept the inning going with a beautifully-placed bunt just in front of the plate.

After a sacrifice bunt and an infield pop-up, Griffin blooped a single over Small's head at third base. Worthington, who has six hits in two playoff contests, easily scored on the play for the 3-2 lead.

"That helped a lot," Humphrey said.

Randleman snapped North Lenoir's shutout streak at six games. The Hawks' pitching staff had recorded 43 consecutive scoreless innings before the Tigers scratched twice in the third. North Lenoir has yielded just two runs in the last 48 innings and outscored the opposition 50-2.

"We just didn't hit," Tigers coach Heather Wilburn said. "I'm not going to make any excuses, but I don't think there was some consistency. Hermia is a good pitcher, or she wouldn't be here and this team wouldn't be here without her.

"This wasn't our night and this was their night."

The come-from-behind win also avenged a third-round road loss against the Tigers last year. The Hawks denied Randleman a possible second straight trip to the Final Four and remain in position for their first-ever visit to Walnut Creek.

2004 N.C. High School

Athletic Association Class 2-A

Softball Playoffs

Eastern quarterfinals

(at North Lenoir HS)

Randleman 002 000 0 -- 2 3 2

North Lenoir 100 200 x -- 3 8 0

Leading hitters -- North Lenoir -- Leslie Oliver 1-4; Randi Moulton 2-3, 2B; Morgan Worthington 2-3, 2 RBI; Rachel Cromer 2-3; Ashley Griffin 1-2, RBI. Randleman -- Jessica Small 1-3; Michelle Jones 1-2; Crissie Fuir 1-3, 2 RBI.

LOB -- North Lenoir 7, Randleman 2. SH -- Mills, Sanders. SB -- Oliver.


Randleman (23-3)

Brown (L) 6 8 3 3 0 2

North Lenoir (24-2)

Humphrey (W, 15-1) 7 3 2 2 0 2

WP -- Humphrey. HBP -- Jones (by Humphrey), Griffin (by Brown).