05/19/06 — Norwayne shows total domination on softball diamond

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Norwayne shows total domination on softball diamond

By Steve Roush
Published in Sports on May 19, 2006 2:09 PM

When a team scores 196 runs in a season and gives up zero, it's doing something right.

And when you couple that with the fact the Norwayne Middle School softball team hasn't lost a game in eight seasons, you could call it a dynasty.

"I told the girls, you don't understand what you've accomplished," said longtime Norwayne coach Dan Millard, whose Lady Cobras have now won 108 straight games dating back to 1999. "We all knew about the streak, but I had no idea at the beginning of the season we'd go a whole year without giving up a single run."

Leading the way for the Lady Cobras this year was eighth grader Autumn Pittman, whose sister, Summer, played with the Norwayne softball team during the early years of the streak. On the mound, Autumn was 13-0 with a whopping 119 strikeouts and an ERA of, you guessed it, 0.00. At the plate, she hit a team-best .553, drove in 24 runs and scored 29 more.

"Autumn had a tremendous year," Millard said. "It was about the fifth or sixth game this year when she came up to me and said, 'You know, we haven't given up a run yet this season.' Up until that point, I hadn't really thought about it. Then she told me, 'It's my goal to make sure no one scores on us.'"

Catcher Victoria Benton and shortstop Cara Frederick also hit better than .500 this season as Benton finished with a .538 average, 23 runs and a team-high 26 RBIs, and Frederick hit .531, scored 26 times, drove in 20 runs and hit a long home run at Mount Olive.

Seventh grader Ashley Shingleton played third base and was the team's relief pitcher. Shingleton hit .489, had 20 RBIs, scored 27 runs, and struck out 23 hitters in her nine innings of work on the mound and also had a 0.00 ERA.

"Those three really had big years at the plate, too," Millard said. "But they all were great in the field, as well. Victoria is a great defensive catcher, Cara is a very solid shortstop, and Ashley did a very good job at third base and served the team well as our second pitcher."

Other Lady Cobras on this year's team were Jessica Hare, Jessica Summerlin, Nicole Kessler, Emily Daughtry, Shaina Matthews, Anna Rose, Abbey Strickland, Cassidy Anderson, Jessica Cole, Megan Wunders and Leigh Johnson.

Norwayne opened the season with a 17-0 win over Goldsboro, then grabbed a 9-0 victory against Spring Creek and beat Rosewood 16-0.

After cruising to a 20-0 victory over Greenwood, the Lady Cobras beat Mount Olive 24-0 on March 13 -- it was Norwayne's 100th straight win.

"I'm proud to be on the team where he got his 100th victory, and we want to keep it going," Autumn Pittman said after the big win. "We don't want to be the team where it comes to an end. So we work hard to preserve it."

And preserve it they did.

Eastern Wayne gave the Cobras their toughest game of the year, as Norwayne pulled away for a 6-0 triumph after win No. 100, and Millard's squad finished the year with wins over Grantham (15-0), Rosewood (22-0), Brogden (13-0), Grantham (11-0), Brogden (20-0), Greenwood (15-0) and Eastern Wayne (8-0).

"I feel proud to be a Cobra," Benton said earlier in the season. "When I step onto the field, whenever we play, I feel like we can't lose."

And they didn't.

"This is a team I'll never forget," Millard said. "They gave me my 100th win, and they didn't give up a single run. I'm very proud of them, and it was a pleasure for me to coach this year's group."