05/12/06 — Private school playoffs underway today

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Private school playoffs underway today

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 12, 2006 2:11 PM

Postseason play begins today on the independent schools scene, while Faith Christian Academy's softball team takes another step toward the N.C. Christian Schools Association Class 2-A title.

Rematches highlight opening-round play in the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A baseball playoffs.

Wayne Country Day (11-9) drew a No. 6 seed and will host a first-round postseason game for the first time in nearly two decades. The Chargers face 10th-seeded Village Christian, which fell 12-2 to WCDS in the regular-season finale for both teams Tuesday afternoon.

Game time is 2 p.m. Saturday.

"There are no seniors on this year's team," said WCDS coach Michael Taylor, whose team surpassed last year's win total (7). "It has been a great year and we look forward to hosting a state playoff game."

Sophomore utility player Ryan Ford is batting .500 with 17 RBI and 17 stolen bases. Junior Travis Davis leads the Chargers with 34 RBI and has a 4.12 earned run average (ERA) on the mound.

Trent Langston, another junior, is hitting .361 with 17 RBI and bats in the No. 6 spot.

"(Trent) is the hardest worker on the team and gets the most out of everything that he does," said Taylor.

Sam Steed, sophomore Kevin Herring and junior Kyle Pender each average better than .323 at the plate. Overall, Wayne Country Day is batting a crisp .335 as a team.

Taylor said the pitching staff's ERA is 4.91 and opponents bat .255 as a team. He's also called upon Herring and Pender to toss a few innings along with Ford, Davis and Langston.

Wayne Christian, the Carolina Christian Conference champion, earned a No. 7 seed for the 12-team field. The Eagles (15-3) entertain 11th-seeded Hobgood Academy (11-9) and get a chance to avenge a regular-season loss against the Raiders.

The Eagles beat Hobgood for their first-ever playoff win in school history last spring.

Pitchers Adam Brannan, who earned MVP honors in the CCC tournament, and Tyler Thomas have carried Wayne Christian through the postseason thus far. The two hurlers have thrown quality innings and not lost their composure at crucial times this season.

Andrew Bass, the CCC player of the year, has emerged one of the Eagles' top offensive performers along with Billy Smith and T.A. Brannan. Jeremy Jefferson, Doug Johnson and Jordan Yelverton have helped lead the Eagles to their most-successful season in school history.

Wayne Christian is making its third consecutive appearance in the playoffs and has an all-time record of 1-3.

State-ranked Wayne Country Day, which finished runner-up to Covenant Day a year ago, starts its women's soccer journey today against ninth-seeded Northwood Temple. The eighth-seeded Chargers (12-6) have won six of their last seven games and held their opposition to one goal or less in five of those wins.

Junior Georgia Crow, an all-state candidate, averages two goals per game and has 29 for the season.

First-year WCDS coach Paul Estrada calls Crow the team "general."

"She's able to play any position ... a tactician who sees the field like a battle-hardened general," said Estrada. "(Georgia) has the gift of being in the right place at the right time. She's very versatile (and) she's dangerous on and off the ball.

"She's able to make things happen with a quick side step or a bending shot on goal from a set position."

Freshman striker Virginia Best has been a perfect complement for Crow and given the Chargers a deadly 1-2 punch in one-on-one situations. Best has 18 goals and 20 assists, and can shoot with precision with either her left or right foot.

"She's very smart on the field ... a playmaker," said Estrada. "She's got great touch, skill and the lungs of a thoroughbred give her an advantage over most defenders."

Senior Whitney Nagel has handed out 15 assists in 18 outings.

Freshman keeper Ellen Elmore has notched six shutouts and averages five saves a game. She's gotten strong defensive support from Kayla Flanagan, Caroline Lewis and sweeper Molly Peacock.

Faith Christian secured its Final Four berth with a lopsided win over Woodland Baptist on Monday afternoon. The Conquerors face Tri-City in today's first semifinal-round game at 1 p.m. at Kernersville. Asheville Temple meets Union Grove in the other semifinal at 4 p.m.

The title game is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday.

Jennifer Christopher and Renee Provencial shared the mound duties during regular-season play, but Christopher claimed the pitching win Monday afternoon. The right-hander yielded two hits and struck out six in a complete-game effort.