04/10/06 — Wayne Christian softball team is 9-1, with only two upperclassmen this year

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Wayne Christian softball team is 9-1, with only two upperclassmen this year

By Steve Roush
Published in Sports on April 10, 2006 1:56 PM

It's a team that starts three seventh graders and has just two upperclassmen. But make no mistake, Wayne Christian is one of the ballclubs to beat in the Carolina Christian 1-A conference.

The Roger Longwell-coached Eagles have opened the season 9-1, have been ranked as high as No. 2 in the state, are hitting .405 as a team and have a team ERA of 1.59. They've beaten three of the top 5 teams in the state from a year ago -- Faith Christian of Rocky Mount, Cape Fear and Hobgood -- and Wayne Christian's only loss came in Game 1 of a doubleheader against No. 2-ranked Cape Fear.

And to top it off, Wayne Christian even won with just eight players on Friday night when three Eagles missed the game due to illness.

"We've got a pretty good team this year," said Longwell, whose squad made the playoffs a year ago. "They hit the ball well and we've got good pitching. We're preparing them for state and working them hard. If we can keep improving every day and keep playing hard, we can have a great season."

Leading the way for the Lady Eagles this year is Kinston transfer Traci Davis. The sophomore is tops on the team with an amazing .649 batting average, has two home runs and 11 extra-base hits. As the team's ace pitcher, Davis is 5-1 with a 2.02 ERA and has struck out a whopping 69 hitters in 38 innings pitched.

"She's only a 10th grader, but I think she has the potential to be a Division I or II softball player," Longwell said. "She throws around 60 mph right now and has a great screwball, plus is a great hitter."

Davis said she thinks this team can make a run in the playoffs.

"We've beaten some good teams this year," said Davis, who fanned 16 hitters in Friday's 6-5 win over Northwood. "We've just got to keep battling every game and keep fighting when things get tight."

When Davis isn't on the mound, catcher Brittany Sullivan does the pitching.

Sullivan, a freshman, is 4-0 this season with a microscopic 0.74 ERA and has 31 strikeouts in 19 innings pitched. At the plate, she's hitting .314 and has a team-high three home runs.

Also making big contributions for the Lady Eagles are seventh graders Charity Wright (2B, .414 avg.), Reagan Hinton (IF, .538 avg.) and Kayla Kennedy (SS, .429 avg.). The team also has a pair of sixth graders, Carly Hightower (.444 avg.) and Courtney Barrow (.286 avg.), who by rule can only play in non-conference games.

"Our starting seventh graders have had great seasons so far," Longwell said. "We're a very young team, but they're all pretty good."

Danielle Pender (OF, .400 avg.) is the team's lone senior and the only junior is first baseman Michelle Krug, who is hitting .300.

Rounding out the squad are Logan Dawson (.188 avg.), Katie Daniels (.333 avg.), Hope Wright (.400 avg.) and Lindley Pierce (.364).

The Eagles continue their season today with a 4 p.m. home doubleheader against Goldsboro, and still have big games against Mount Calvary, Faith Christian of Rocky Mount and state-ranked Village before the postseason starts in May.

"We've been playing well," Krug said. "But we've still got some big games left."