04/21/06 — Defense lets Southern Wayne down

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Defense lets Southern Wayne down

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 21, 2006 2:11 PM

DUDLEY -- Southern Wayne pitcher Lauren Darden needed a brief escape from softball and took head coach Brad Matthews advice -- no pitching -- for four days during Spring Break.

The layoff helped.

Darden threw strikes and allowed once-beaten South Lenoir to put the ball in play on a balmy, sunsplashed Thursday afternoon. But Darden received little support from her defense, which committed five errors in a 4-2, non-conference loss to the Lady Devils.

A right-handed pitcher, Darden yielded three hits and notched 10 strikeouts in a complete-game effort. The freshman retired 10 of 12 Devils she faced during three-plus innings and surrendered three unearned runs.

"It's a shame for Lauren to pitch well enough to win and lose," said Matthews, whose career record is 87-59. "We just played lousy defense ... horrible. I scheduled these games to get ready for conference play (next week) and we just acted like we didn't want to be here."

The Saints (11-7) travel to North Lenoir, the defending Class 2-A N.C. High School Athletic Association champion, today. Game time is 7 p.m. at Wheat Swamp.

South Lenoir, of the East Central 2-A Conference, extended its winning streak to 16 games. Head coach Lisa Smith said it's the school's best start since moving to fast-pitch play in the mid-1990s.

"We capitalized on a couple of their mistakes and they capitalized on a couple of ours," said Smith, whose team left four runners in scoring position. "We were fortunate to come out ahead."

Saints catcher Lindsey Pearsall provided an RBI double in the first inning and designated hitter Morgan Davis delivered a two-out, RBI single in the second inning. That tied the game at 2-2 after the Devils had pushed two unearned runs across in the top half of the second.

Two errors led to South Lenoir's third run in the fourth. Katie Moore slapped a two-out, RBI single in the seventh to account for the visitors' final run.

Devil right-hander Kayla Cole (14-1) surrendered nine hits and struck out eight in seven innings of work. Cole escaped a bases-loaded jam in the sixth after yielding back-to-back singles to Pearsall and Haley Fail, and walking Davis. She struck out the next two batters and forced lead-off batter Brianna Lofton into an inning-ending, infield pop-up.

Lofton had drilled two hits in her first two at-bats and struck out during her third appearance.

"She's aggressive with the bat and that's what you've got to be," lamented Matthews, whose team stranded eight runners, including five in scoring position. "The bases loaded with no outs and two punchouts back to back? You've got to put the ball in play right there.

"That's a matter of not wanting it."

Smith didn't want Lofton on base, either.

"We decided we were not going inside or outside, but throw it low because she's got quick hands and can drive the ball," said Smith.

Southern Wayne's Alyssa Bradshaw, who batted 2-for-4, legged out an infield single to start the seventh. But Cole induced two infield pop-ups and recorded a strikeout to end the game.

South Lenoir 020 100 1 -- 4 4 1

So. Wayne 110 000 0 -- 2 9 5

Leading hitters -- South Lenoir -- Stephanie Martin 1-3, 2B; Kayla Cole 1-3; Katie Moore 1-4; Taylor Williams 1-3. Southern Wayne -- Brianna Lofton 2-4; Alyssa Bradshaw 2-4; Lindsey Pearsall 2-3, 2B, RBI; Haley Fail 2-3; Morgan Davis 1-2.

LOB -- South Lenoir 6, Southern Wayne 9. SB -- Martin, Williams, Mer. King. SH -- Darden, Cole, Jones, Hardison.


South Lenoir

Cole (W, 16-1) 7 9 2 2 2 8

Southern Wayne

Darden (L, 11-7) 7 4 4 1 0 10

WP -- Darden 3.