Lancaster no-hits Hunt
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on April 30, 2006 2:20 AM
PIKEVILLE -- Charles B. Aycock coach David West noticed his team's increased energy going into Friday's showdown at home against Wilson Hunt for the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference lead.
One player, junior pitcher Julia Lancaster, remained as usual, cool and calm.
After tossing a complete game, no-hitter in the Golden Falcons' 3-0 win over the Warriors, make that cool, calm and dominant.
Lancaster struck out 13 against just two walks, which proved to be the only two Warrior baserunners. Just one off the minimum, she had five multi-strikeout innings in the complete-game effort and fanned 11 of the first 16 Hunt batters.
"Before we even started tonight, the intensity and emotional level was higher than anytime .... even when we've been to the Final Four in Raleigh," West said. "But Julia was cool as a cucumber. Julia's turned into a big-time pitcher. To get a no-hitter against a team like Hunt, in a game like this, speaks volumes."
The no-hitter proved to be the second of her career as she also yielded no hits -- but a pair of unearned runs -- in a 2-0 loss at home to Wilson Fike in a non-conference game earlier in the season.
Friday's "no-no" proved to be much more memorable as it helped Aycock (13-7 overall) improve to 7-1 in the ECC. With two games left, the Falcons, who celebrated Senior Night on Friday, now control their own destiny for what would be their fourth straight conference title.
"It was very important to get this win and to get to first place in conference," Lancaster said. "I think all of our seniors really stepped up. I have all the confidence in the world in my players behind me. They're awesome."
Hunt (16-5 overall), which handed Aycock its only league loss earlier in the year, slipped to 6-2 in ECC play heading into the final week of the regular season.
Lancaster and Warriors' ace, Brittany Farmer, were locked in a pitcher's duel through the first four and a half innings.
Aycock threatened in the first and third against Farmer, but both times, the Hunt righty pitched out of the jams and like Lancaster, benefitted from flawless defensive play behind her. Hunt's only base runner in the first five innings proved to be Abi Earle, who reached on a lead-off walk to start the fourth. Attempting to steal second, Earle was cut down on a perfect throw-and-catch from catcher Rusti Talton to short stop Shelly Lancaster.
The Falcons finally broke through in the fifth when Stevie Savage smacked a one-out single to right center, then advanced all the way to third on a pair of wild pitches. Lead-off hitter Brittany Ford, who came off the bench to get two hits, ripped a two-out single up the middle to score Savage from third to make it 1-0.
Hunt's Casey Strickland worked a one-out walk in the top of the sixth, moved to second on a wild pitch, then reached third on Karen Coleman's sacrifice bunt. But Lancaster fanned Abi Earle to end the Warriors' biggest threat of the game.
Appropriately in the bottom of the sixth a pair of Aycock seniors -- Kandace Burroughs and Brittani Edgerton -- sparked a two-run rally to give Lancaster a pair of insurance runs. Burroughs doubled to left center to start the inning, while Edgerton singled with one out and stole second -- setting up second and third with one out.
"Both pitchers were on, and our pitcher was matching Lancaster pitch-for-pitch," Kidd said. "But they got the key hits."
Farmer got Leigh Smith to ground out for the second out, before tossing a wild pitch with Shelly Lancaster at the plate allowing Burroughs to score easily. Edgerton also raced home on the play as the late throw from the Hunt catcher to Farmer covering at the plate was off target and rolled all the way back to the mound.
"I think we're a better base running team than we were last year. I thought the base running was almost perfect. They ran great and listened on the bases," West said. "When we get those hits, we can make something out of them."
Lancaster followed with a perfect seventh inning to finish off the no-hitter and key ECC victory.
Burroughs, Edgerton, Staci Barnes and Chelsey Byers, who led off the game with a hit, played in their final regular-season home game for Aycock.
The Falcons finish their ECC slate on the road as the travel to Eastern Wayne on Tuesday, then face Southern Wayne in Dudley on Thursday. Hunt hosts the Saints on Tuesday and finishes up the regular season at home against Wilson Beddingfield on Thursday. The innaugural conference tournament begins Monday, May 8.
Wilson Hunt 000 000 0 -- 0 0 1
C.B. Aycock 000 012 x -- 3 6 0
Leading hitters -- C.B. Aycock -- Brittany Ford 2-2, RBI; Kandace Burroughs 1-2, 2B, run; Brittani Edgerton 1-3, run; Stevie Savage 1-3, run; Chelsey Byers 1-1.
IP H R ER BB SO
B. Farmer (L) 6 6 3 2 2 4
J. Lancaster (W,11-2)7 0 0 0 2 13
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