03/10/05 — Prep softball -- Saints win in 11 innings

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Prep softball -- Saints win in 11 innings

Published in Sports on March 10, 2005 2:12 PM

DUDLEY -- Kinston softball coach Donald Mooring said it best after his club dropped a heartbreaker in 11 innings to Southern Wayne 7-6.

"Just another typical Southern Wayne-Kinston game," he said.

The come from behind win keeps coach Brad Mathews' squad undefeated at 3-0. It was also their inaugural win of the season in Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference play. Kinston's record falls below .500 at 1-2.

Mathews alluded to three factors contributing to the victory. "First and foremost," he said. "this team never quit."

Other factors mentioned were the team's perfect defense, complemented by the nearly flawless seven innings of relief pitching by Karen Thornton.

Thornton, in relief of starter Lesli Darden, allowed only one runner to reach base, en route to her second win of the season.

"How many teams at the end of the year, let alone a cold early season game, can play eleven innings of errorless ball?" asked Mathews.

Shortstop Lindsay Jarnagin had six assists, while third baseman Rachel Reynolds had five.

Kinston, a team comprised almost entirely of underclassmen, did not go home quietly. They drew first blood, scoring on a passed ball in the first inning. Only a Thornton rocket to catcher Lindsey Pearsall nailing Kim Dixon at the plate, prevented further damage.

While Southern Wayne scored twice in their half of the inning, and another in the second to lead 3-1, the Lady Saints squandered more than their share of additional scoring opportunities. They left 13 runners on base.

Sparkling defense held the Lady Vikings to but one run in their half of the third. Danielle Bryant got caught in a rundown between Pearsall and Reynolds at third base snuffing out a potential rally.

Bryant was not to be denied in her next at bat the following inning. With the bases loaded, the senior shortstop and team leader with a three year career batting average of over .460, blasted a Darden offering over the center-field fence to put her team back in the lead 6-3.

Southern Wayne kept chipping away.

In the bottom of the fourth, right fielder Scarlett Joyner singled, then came home easily thanks to a Danielle Wilkins triple to right center. Wilkins cut the Kinston lead to one, 6-5, as she scored off a Grantham single.

Joyner, who was clutch on the night with three hits, knocked in the tying run in the sixth. Her single drove in Reynolds, who had also singled, then stole second.

With Thornton keeping their guests at bay, the Lady Saints had scoring opportunities in the seventh, where they had the bases loaded and no outs, ninth, and tenth, but couldn't capitalize.

They left nothing to chance in the bottom of the eleventh. Haley Fail led off with a double to right center. Katie Westfall was intentionally walked. Opportunity was knocking and Jarnagin was ready offensively this time. She reached basely for the fourth time in five tries, sending Fail home with the gamewinner, a blooper down the right field line.

"Unbelievable," was the way Mooring described his team's efforts. "Eleven of our players are freshmen or sophomores. We played just about even against a team that lost only one player from last year."

Mooring could only say "awesome" about his pitcher, Traci Davis.

"She's only a freshman, and she threw over 180 pitches," he said. Eleven innings, the first conference game, against a great team, I couldn't be more proud of her."

"I was a little nervous, coming in behind," said Thornton. "With my defense behind me, I just settled down and started pitching," she said.

Southern Wayne will travel to South Central for their next game Friday afternoon.