03/19/06 — Darden blanks Hawks

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Darden blanks Hawks

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on March 19, 2006 2:01 AM

DUDLEY -- Rarely does a team commit five errors and keep a good team off the scoreboard.

Thanks to a stout performance by freshman pitcher Lauren Darden, Southern Wayne's softball team defied those odds on Friday at home against North Lenoir.

Darden allowed only two hits and finished with nine strikeouts against only one walk in seven innings of work as the Saints claimed a 1-0 win over the Hawks.

North Lenoir (7-2) stranded nine overall on the game, including eight in scoring position. Darden pitched out of tight jams in the first and second as her teammates committed three errors in the first two innings.

With the Saints (4-3) leading 1-0 in the seventh, the Hawks threatened again in their final at-bat -- putting runners on second and third with one out after a pair of Southern Wayne miscues.

Darden recorded the second out by snagging a short, pop-up near the third-base line. Then, she finished off the win by inducing a ground out to second baseman Meredith Davis, who scooped up the roller and fired to first baseman Lynn Grantham for the final out.

"She's tough. When people are on base, it fires her up," Southern Wayne coach Brad Matthews said of Darden. "She knows what she's got to do then, and she goes after the batters."

Matthews hopes his team will correct their defensive miscues as they near the start of Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference play.

"We need to really work on bunt coverage," he said. "We look like we're scared to go after the ball, then when we did get it, we made bad throws."

North Lenoir freshman, Connor Jordan, was nearly as impressive as Darden in a pitcher's duel between freshman right-handers.

Jordan struck out eight -- with at least one "K" in every inning -- and walked none, also yielding only two hits in six innings.

Alyssa Bradshaw got both hits for Southern Wayne, including a lead-off single to left to start the bottom of the fourth. Lynn Grantham followed by reaching on an error, then both moved up on a ground out by Darden -- setting up second-and-third with one out.

With Bradshaw breaking towards home from third, fifth-hitter Haley Fail perfectly executed a squeeze bunt to bring home Bradshaw for the game's only run.

"She's a good bunter, and that's what won the game for us. She got it down just perfect," Matthews said.

After Lindsay Pearsall reached on a fielder's choice to load the bases, Jordan recorded a strike out, then got out of the inning with a grounder to second.

"I told their team that she (Darden) was probably the best pitcher we've faced all year," North Lenoir coach Heather Humphrey said. "It was a great battle between those two (pitchers). They both did a great job."

Southern Wayne travels to North Johnston on Monday, before battling Eastern Wayne at home in the ECC opener for both schools on Wednesday. The Hawks travel to Kinston on Tuesday, before hosting Charles B. Aycock on Wednesday.

N. Lenoir 000 000 0 -- 0 2 2

So. Wayne 000 100 x -- 1 2 5

Leading hitters -- North Lenoir -- Kayla Sutton 1-4; Brittany Sanders 1-3. Southern Wayne -- Alyssa Bradshaw 2-3, run; Haley Fail 0-1, RBI.


North Lenoir (7-2)

C. Jordan (L) 6 2 1 0 0 8

Southern Wayne (4-3)

L. Darden (W) 7 2 0 0 1 9