05/21/06 — Lady Falcons advance to Round 2

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Lady Falcons advance to Round 2

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on May 21, 2006 2:17 AM

PIKEVILLE -- Leaving runners on base rarely turns into a positive, especially in the playoffs.

On Friday, Charles B. Aycock put five runners on base in the bottom of the first but managed just one run against South Central's Jessie Odom. The Golden Falcons did not do significant damage on the scoreboard, but they gained something just as important with the early threat -- confidence.

With the game tied 1-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth, Aycock posted four hits -- including two for extra bases -- in the final two innings and claimed a 3-1 win over former Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference foe South Central in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs.

"Even though we only scored one run, that first inning gave us a lot of confidence," Aycock coach David West said. "You have to put yourself in a position to take advantage of everything that comes your way. We've never had a game against South Central that didn't come down to one or two runs. Tonight was no different."

The win sends the Golden Falcons (17-7), who have won 16 of their last 18 games, into the second round for the fifth-straight year under West's direction. Aycock will host Currituck (17-4) on Tuesday at 6 p.m. The Knights, the top seed from the Northeastern Coastal Conference, defeated Northern Nash, 1-0 in 17 innings on Friday.

South Central, the second seed from the Coastal Conference, finished the season at 18-6.

As Aycock junior pitcher Julia Lancaster and her defense consistently kept the visitors from Winterville at bay, yielding only a first-inning run, the Golden Falcons' delivered offensively in the late innings.

After getting just one hit -- but hitting a handful of balls on the nose -- against Odom in the second, third and fourth, Brittany Ford started the bottom of the fifth with a single to center. The speedy sophomore advanced to second on a passed ball, then moved to third on a costly error by the South Central shortstop. Rusti Talton followed with a clutch, two-out RBI single to score Ford to make it 2-1.

One inning later, Emily Jordan, who reached base in all three plate appearances, started the sixth with a double to left-center. With one out, Stevie Savage smacked an opposite-field triple down the right-field line-- allowing Jordan's pinch-runner, Heather Farmer, to easily score the final run as the ball was misplayed by the right fielder.

Two of Odom's three runs allowed proved to be unearned as her defense committed three costly errors and her catcher had two passed balls.

"When you get in the playoffs, if you make errors you go home. That was uncharacteristic of our team," South Central coach Kemp Ewing said. "Take nothing away from Aycock, but I think if we make a different showing in the field this is a different game."

South Central went down quietly in the seventh as Lancaster (14-2) retired the final three batters on just five pitches to finish off her first career playoff win. Lancaster had four strikeouts against just one walk, allowing only one run on four hits in the complete game. The righty's defense made just one error, which did not lead to a run.

South Central's lone run came in the first as Nicole Nunamaker ripped a two-out single up the middle to bring home Karen Harker, who started the game with a base hit to right. Nunamaker finished with two of her team's four hits and also reached on an error in the fourth.

Aycock, the ECC's regular season and tournament champs, quickly answered in the bottom of the first as senior Brittani Edgerton posted a double into the right-center gap with two outs to bring home Leigh Smith, who reached on an error and advanced to second on a fielder's choice, to tie the game at 1-1.

"This was a really big game. We came out strong today," Edgerton said. "We knew how tough Jessie (Odom) and Nicole (Nunamaker) were ... this could be one of the best teams we face in the playoffs."

Odom ended her prep career with two strikeouts and only one walk and gave up only three runs (one earned) on six hits in seven innings.

Notes: The Golden Falcons are now 11-1 in sectional playoff games in the last five years ... Aycock eliminated South Central in the third round last year ... Six different players accounted for Aycock's six hits on Friday ... Lancaster induced eight groundouts and five flights ... In the top of the fourth, a South Central player was ruled out for having an untucked shirt when she got to the plate.

2006 Class 3-A

NCHSAA playoffs

First round

(at C.B. Aycock HS, Pikeville)

South Central 100 000 0 -- 1 4 3

C.B. Aycock 100 011 x -- 3 6 1

Leading hitters -- South Central -- Nicole Nunamaker 2-3, RBI; Karen Harker 1-3, run; Kayla Kraft 1-3. C.B. Aycock -- Brittani Edgerton 1-3, 2B, RBI; Rusti Talton 1-3, RBI; Stevie Savage 1-3, 3B, RBI; Brittany Ford 1-4, run; Emily Jordan 1-2, 2B; Jazzmine Lee 1-3.


South Central

J. Odom (L) 7 6 3 1 1 2

C.B. Aycock

J. Lancaster (W, 14-2) 7 4 1 1 1 4