06/05/05 — C.B. Aycock softball takes 3-A East; finishes 3rd overall

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C.B. Aycock softball takes 3-A East; finishes 3rd overall

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on June 5, 2005 2:05 AM

RALEIGH -- They occupied the same uniforms but hardly resembled the same players who bashed three opponents on their way to a final four appearance.

Charles B. Aycock outscored the opposition 23-0 in district and sectional play, but couldn't duplicate the offensive output at the Walnut Creek Softball Complex on Saturday. The Golden Falcons tallied just two runs in 23 innings and finished third overall in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A playoffs.

Rusti Talton provided a bases-loaded, walk-off single to give Aycock a 2-1, nine-inning decision against Clayton in the eastern final. The Golden Falcons clinched the program's first regional championship since 2002 and third overall since 2000.

The good, timely fortune ended there.

Kings Mountain collected the game-winning run in the seventh inning in a 1-0, winners' bracket victory against Aycock. West Rowan pitcher Adele Burnside shut down the Golden Falcons for a 7-0 win. The loss eliminated Aycock from the four-team, double-elimination tournament.

"They were here, but the pitching was a lot better than what we've seen," said Aycock coach David West. "Maybe we were not as confident at the plate as we were during the three (early) playoff games. I don't know.

"That's something to think about ... where it went to."

In three games combined, Aycock's batters struck out 40 times and hit just .123 (9-for-73) overall. The Golden Falcons managed five hits against Clayton and two each against Kings Mountain and West Rowan.

West's club scored just twice in 23 chances (.083 percent) and left 16 runners on base. Aycock left the bases loaded twice against West Rowan and stranded nine runners overall. In the Kings Mountain contest, the Golden Falcons had just three base runners and the Mountaineer defense erased two runners attempting to steal either second or third base.

Aycock has been shut out six times in the final four since its first-ever appearance in 2000.

"We didn't force anything in the other games," West said of the two losses. "We had the bases loaded twice. We had the big sticks up ... really looking for a big hit to come through, and we just didn't get it.

"We played hard. We didn't give up."

Especially against Clayton.

After seeing their 1-0 lead disappear in the seventh, the Golden Falcons used the momentum of a big defensive play in the ninth. Senior catcher Ashley Morris picked off the Comets' Genilee Eisenmann, who had reached on an error, diving back to first base.

Senior right-hander Jenny Jackson induced back-to-back groundouts to the end the inning.

Brittani Edgerton led off the Aycock ninth with an infield single and moved to third on Kandace Burroughs' fielder's choice bunt. Clayton head coach John Asmussen elected to intentionally walk Jackson for the force out at any base.

However, Talton drilled the first pitch from Comets right-hander Sarah Jackson into left field to end the game. Aycock extended its unbeaten streak to 16 games and beat Clayton in the postseason for the second consecutive year.

"We forced something to happen," West said.

Kings Mountain (30-1) turned an inning-ending double play in the first, which squashed Aycock's lone scoring opportunity. Right-hander Morgan Childers, who threw a perfect game against West Rowan, retired 18 of the final 19 batters she faced.

Pinch-hitter Chelsey Byers spoiled Burnside's no-hit bid with a double down the right field line in the sixth inning. However, the Golden Falcons left five runners in scoring position against West Rowan.

"You have to credit those other pitchers," West said. "They just kept us at bay. We couldn't do anything with it. We were chasing high pitches and bunting like it was a suicide when all it was was just a sacrifice.

"We tried to chase balls way outside (the strike zone) to bunt. That's just little fundamental mistakes and errors."

The third-place finish marked the end of four seniors' careers at Aycock -- Morris, Jackson, Karlie West and Chrissy Setliff. The trio leaves with three Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference titles under their belts. Jackson departs as the program's all-time career leader in numerous pitching categories and will have her jersey retired next fall in the school's Hall of Fame.

Jackson surrendered six hits in 16 innings and two earned runs on the day.

"Jenny did a great job in those games," West said. "She pitched just as well today as she did in the other three (playoff outings). We just didn't get the hits. Had we got the hits, we'd already be back in Goldsboro.

"We didn't get the hits and that was the tale of the game. It had nothing to do with pitching in any game we played."

Sophomore Julia Lancaster and freshman left-hander Emily Jordan combined for a seven-hitter against West Rowan.

Aycock concluded the year 22-5 overall.

"All in all, it was a great season and without a doubt we ended up the best team in the East in 3-A," West said. "We have nothing to hang our head about, but we sure would liked to have carried home another one (gold trophy).

"There are a whole lot of teams who didn't get the chance to play in the playoffs who would love to claim that. I'm proud of my girls."