Saints turn in another shutout
By Dan Friedell
Published in Sports on March 23, 2006 1:47 PM
DUDLEY -- Southern Wayne sophomore catcher Lindsey Pearsall had been pestering coach Brad Matthews about batting cleanup all season.
And Matthews pestered her right back, asking Pearsall when she was going to start hitting.
But Wednesday, before the Saints' first conference game of the year against Eastern Wayne, he relented and gave Pearsall what she wanted.
But the experiment didn't start out so well: she popped out in the first and ended the third by getting thrown out at third base.
That's why Pearsall's three-run homer in the bottom of the fourth was so special. It not only propelled the Saints (7-4, 1-0) to a convincing 9-0 win, it gave Pearsall something to say to Matthews as she rounded third.
"He was picking on me earlier about hitting, because I haven't hit well this season," she said. "And I told him that I was going to get a good hit today."
So when her fly ball bounced off the top of the centerfield fence and over the wall, she pumped a fist and pointed at her coach.
"Fourth batter. Cleanup. That's what I said."
"She was just reminding me that she was the number four batter tonight," Matthews said.
It was Pearsall's first home run of her high school career, other than one in batting practice.
"But that doesn't count," she said, smiling.
Matthews was glad to see Pearsall respond to the challenge of batting fourth.
"She's been swinging the bat good, so I'm going to reward her and put her up near the top," Matthews said.
Pearsall's two-out blast came off of Carrie Adams, who had relieved starter Wendy Gardner earlier that inning, and gave the Saints an 8-0 lead.
Eastern Wayne coach Scott Waller noted that the Warriors could have been out of the inning a lot sooner if not for a few miscues in the field.
"We gave them like five outs in that inning," Waller said.
Another player who had perhaps the best day of her varsity career was Southern Wayne pitcher Lauren Darden. She hit both corners of the plate with regularity and even experimented with a few off-speed pitches. The freshman only allowed three hits while striking out nine and walking none.
Meghan Pittman, Eastern Wayne's designated hitter, was the only Warrior to reach third base.
"As a freshman, she's doing really good playing varsity," Pearsall said. "She's very accurate; she pitches wherever we tell her to."
While Darden is no stranger to recording strikeouts -- she notched 11 in a loss to Rosewood earlier this season -- it was notable that four Warriors went down looking.
"She was on tonight," Matthews said. "She was hitting her spots really well."
Waller, whose his team hadn't practiced since Friday due to the area's recent wet weather, said was impressed with Darden.
Southern Wayne centerfielder, sophomore Brianna Lofton, gave Darden all the runs she would need when she singled to start the bottom of the first, advanced to second on Haley Fail's sacrifice bunt, and came around to score due to Mitchell's first error.
In four at-bats, Lofton scored twice, walked twice and was on base three times. She was coming off a two-homer, seven-RBI game against North Johnston. When she faced against Gardner with the bases loaded in the fourth, she walked on four pitches, only one of which was hittable.
"I don't blame them," Matthews said about Eastern Wayne's strategy. "I'd rather give up one run than three or four."
After some tough non-conference losses to start the season, Matthews feels like his team is rounding into shape. He hopes the Saints are strong enough to compete with C.B. Aycock, Wilson Hunt or Wilson Beddingfield.
But he's glad to get this season's first conference win in the books.
"You want to win the conference," he said.
"They're very important games."
Eastern Wayne 000 000 0 - 0 3 5
Southern Wayne 101 601 x - 9 6 1
Leading hitters -- Eastern Wayne -- Meghan Pittman 1-3, double; Emily Sasser 1-3; Brianna Williams 1-3. Southern Wayne -- Brianna Lofton 1-2, 2 runs, 2 walks; Haley Fail 2 runs, sac bunt; Lindsey Pearsall 1-3, HR, 3RBI; Lynn Grantham 2-4, RBI.
IP H R ER BB SO
Wendy Gardner (L) 31/3 2 5 4 3 1
Carrie Adams 22/3 4 4 1 1 0
Lauren Darden (W) 7 3 0 0 0 9
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