05/06/05 — Youth carries WCDS teams into playoffs

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Youth carries WCDS teams into playoffs

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 6, 2005 1:58 PM

Young, but plays with heart.

That's been the calling card for Wayne Country Day's varsity baseball and women's soccer teams this spring. The teams have had quality senior leadership, but the inexperienced youth has also been instrumental in their respective success.

The baseball team toiled through a regular-season schedule that included 10 games against the state's top-ranked teams in either Class 1-A or 2-A.

The soccer team faced an equally-challenging schedule and captured a victory over defending N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A champion Ahoskie Ridgecroft.

Undoubtedly pleased with their teams' performances, neither soccer coach Juliet Jones nor second-year baseball coach Michael Taylor could predict their team's postseason fate. Their concerns were answered Wednesday afternoon.

Each team qualified for the NCISAA playoffs, scheduled to begin today. However, the inclement weather and an unforgiving forecast have postponed both contests.

In baseball, the 10th-seeded Chargers (5-13) are the guests of seventh-seeded Ahoskie Ridgecroft (9-5) on Saturday at 3 p.m. In soccer, Community Christian pays a visit to Wayne Country Day on Monday at 4 p.m. It's a rematch of last year's game decided by a penalty-kick shootout in the Chargers' favor.

"I didn't know what was going to happen to us, but know that we know, we'll take it and run with it," Taylor said. "We played a pretty tough schedule, but I'll take that kind of schedule all day long."

Twelve of the Chargers' 19 opponents spent time in the NCISAA polls this season. Taylor's team played Rocky Mount Academy, Kerr-Vance and Faith Christian-RM twice. They also faced Waccamaw, the two-time defending state champion, and Lawrence Academy, which last claimed an NCISAA crown in 2002.

Waccamaw is the No. 1 seed in the 12-team 1-A field. Meanwhile, Kerr-Vance received the No. 1 seed in the 2-A playoffs and is the heavy favorite.

Senior infielder Kevin Logan leads the Chargers with a .440 batting average, followed by senior center field Spenser Briggs at .415. Freshman utility player Ryan Ford is next at .382. Sophomore pitcher/outfielder Travis Davis is providing a .364 clip at the plate.

Taylor didn't elude to his starting pitcher for Ridgecroft, but Davis might get the nod. He defeated Rocky Mount Academy, ranked No. 1 in the state at the time and North Johnston.

Davis is 2-3 in five starts and notched 23 strikeouts in 34 innings of work. Should Davis encounter trouble, Taylor can call upon a trio of right-handers -- Ford, Logan and sophomore Trent Langston -- to hopefully get the Chargers through.

"I don't know much about Ridgecroft," said Taylor. "I know their starting pitcher is very good. He's got some speed and good breaking ball stuff. Other than that, I don't know anything else."

Meanwhile, Jones is enjoying her experience on the women's soccer scene. She's received considerable assistance from Heather Ressler, who played goal keeper at Mount Olive. Ressler and her teammates captured the school's first-ever NCAA Division II Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference tournament championship.

With Ressler's guidance and building a team around four quality seniors, Jones' squad manufactured a 5-6-1 record.

"It's been fun, exciting and adventurous," said Jones. "It has been a good experience; very different for me. The girls know the game well and I've gotten great help from my assistant, Heather.

"I'm not so surprised (about the bid). We have been unlucky in some games, though."

Senior forward Christin Grubb and sophomore Georgia Crowe have combined for nearly 30 goals. Grubb provides the skills and fundamentals, while Crowe brings unbridled energy and explosion onto the field.

Jones also credited the play of seniors Sarah Coleman, Mimi Bridgers and Amanda Knutson. Their valuable knowledge and dexterity has helped put the Chargers in the postseason for four consecutive years.

Forward Virginia Best, defensive specialist Caroline Lewis and keeper Ellen Elmore have provided significant minutes of play. Elmore averages more than seven saves per outing.

Unbeaten Greenfield drew the top seed for the 12-team field. Trinity Academy is the No. 2 seed, followed by Rocky Mount Academy and Covenant Day.

Other first-round games are Flora MacDonald Academy at Village Christian, Durham Cresset Christian at Ahoskie Ridgecroft and High Point Christian at Cary Christian. Quarterfinal-round play continues Tuesday at the higher-seeded team.

The semifinals and finals are scheduled for May 13-14 at the newly-constructed Bert Gillette Soccer Complex in Wilson.