07/26/05 — Wayne County 14s to play in regional tourney

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Wayne County 14s to play in regional tourney

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 26, 2005 2:07 PM

WINTERVILLE -- Call it the "North Carolina-Florida Invitational" with Virginia as a special guest.

Pitt County, Wayne County and Wilson County comprise the Tarheel State field. Ovieda and Normandy represent the Sunshine State. Glen Allen is the lone competitor from Virginia.

But regardless of how you view this week's Babe Ruth 14-Under Softball Southeast Regional, all six teams are after the same prize -- a title -- beginning Wednesday at the Sara Law Complex. Two games highlight the opening day, while Wayne County plays its first contest Thursday afternoon against either Pitt County or Ovieda.

Once Wayne County takes the diamond, it will end a 15-day layoff -- the longest rest coach Greg Pittman's team has encountered this season.

"We gave the girls a week off and started back this past Monday," said Pittman, whose team received an at-large bid to the regional. "We took a couple of days off in the week, played the weekend and will practice today."

Wayne County carries a 4-3 record into the double-elimination tournament. Pittman's club ousted Lenoir County 2-1 in a best-of-three series in district play and fashioned a 2-2 record in state-tournament action at New Bern.

Pittman's club has losses against Lenoir, Pitt and Wilson.

"Our game with Pitt was the only game they played which lasted the full seven innings down at New Bern," said a proud Pittman. "They were a strong team, but we were their closest competitor."

Wayne County has outscored the opposition 44-28 with one shutout.

Leigh Smith, a rising sophomore at Charles B. Aycock, and Lindsay Pearsall, a rising sophomore at Southern Wayne, have emerged the power hitters. They're a solid complement for Ashley Shingleton and Amber Baker, who are the first two batters in the lineup and "both are fast as lightning," according to Pittman.

Center fielder Jordan Hill and second baseman Christina Williams, probably the team's top defensive player, have made solid contributions. Cara Frederick, a rising eighth-grader at Norwayne, has also produced in the clutch.

"She is tearing the ball up right now," said Pittman. "When we need a hit, she's the one who usually comes through for us."

Pittman also cited the play of Amy Parker and Jordan Coor.

"I have two utility players (Parker, Coor) who play anywhere I ask them to and never question anything," Pittman said. "They just go out and play. I have players who have different roles and they do their part."

Solid pitching has been

Right-handed hurlers Autumn Pittman and Lauren Darden have combined for the four victories on the mound. Pittman is a rising eighth-grader at Norwayne, while Darden will be a freshman at Southern Wayne next fall.

Joining them in the bullpen are Morgan Davis, who will join Darden at Southern Wayne next season. Davis and Darden dueled for the Wayne County Middle School Athletic Conference Division II title last spring at Grantham and Mount Olive, respectively.

Four wins assures Wayne County of a regional title. But that's as far as Pittman's team can advance since Babe Ruth does not sponsor a 14-U World Series.

"Yeah, this will be it for us," said coach Pittman. "These girls play ball every weekend and it helps. The more they play, the better they get.

"My hat's off to them."