05/24/06 — Golden Falcons advance to Elite 8 in softball

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Golden Falcons advance to Elite 8 in softball

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on May 24, 2006 2:21 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Charles B. Aycock's last loss occurred nine games ago back on April 11 at home against Wilson Fike in a non-conference contest.

After a 5-2 win over Currituck in the second round of the Class 3-A N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs on Tuesday, the Golden Falcons (18-7) are going to get a chance to avenge that setback to the Golden Demons.

Much more will be at stake in the rematch.

Fike (18-7), who defeated Washington 2-1 on Tuesday behind a one-hitter by Kellen Skinner, will travel to Aycock on Friday at 7 p.m. for a third-round clash. The winner will advance to next weekend's double-elimination, final four at Walnut Creek for a shot at the state title.

Both teams will enter Friday's game on a roll as the Demons have won 17-of-18, while the Falcons have taken 17 of their last 19.

"We've just been coming out and practicing hard ... coming to games and getting pumped up," said Aycock catcher Rusti Talton, who had two hits and an RBI against Currituck. "Everybody is into it and we're working together."

On Tuesday, Knights' starter Kourtney Cravens yielded no hits and only one baserunner through the first eight batters, before the Falcons' rallied in the third.

Keyed by its speed and offensive balance, and aided by three Currituck errors, Aycock took a 4-0 lead. Jazzmine Lee started the outburst with a bunt single and later scored on Jasmine Dobbin's squeeze bunt. After Kandace Burroughs reached on a fielder's choice, Talton and Brittani Edgerton capped the rally with a pair of run-scoring singles.

"Me, Jasmine and Brittany (Ford) have the speed," Lee said. "If someone is on base we can bunt them over, or even if they aren't we can bunt for a hit. Everyone picks up on that energy, and we go from there."

Ford reached on an error before Dobbin's squeeze, while both Burroughs and Edgerton advanced on the bases due to miscues in the field by Currituck (17-5), the champions of the Northeastern Coastal 3-A/2-A Conference.

"If you take that inning away, you're looking at a one-run ballgame," Currituck coach Karen Booker said. "We knew we were playing a good team and couldn't make many mistakes, but we did and they made us pay for them."

Cravens tossed a scoreless fourth and fifth, then Aycock tacked on its final run in the sixth when pinch-hitter Leigh Smith brought home Lacie Hardy, courtesy-running for pitcher Julia Lancaster, with a double to the right-center field gap to push the score to 5-2.

Cravens struck out five against no walks and gave up six hits. Only three of her five runs allowed proved to be earned.

Aycock starter and winner, sophomore left-hander Emily Jordan (5-4) tossed four innings and yielded two runs on six hits with five strikeouts and no walks. Jordan pitched around a lead-off single by Mandi Jones in the first and a pair of one-out base hits by Kaitlin Scanlon and Shaquanda Grizzle in the second, before tossing a 1-2-3 third.

Currituck struck for three-straight hits to start the fourth and posted a pair of runs as Ashleigh Van Driesen scored on a past ball and Scanlon came home on a sacrifice fly by Justine Ross. Jordan, who earned her first career postseason win, struck out the final batter she faced in the fourth.

Lancaster came on in the fifth and tossed three perfect innings to pick up her first save of the season. After tallying the first-round win against South Central last Friday, the junior righty struck out three and walked none during her stint on Tuesday.

"It's a change of pace and a change of speed. You're looking at the ball coming off the left side, then you see it coming off the right," Aycock coach David West said of his pitching duo. "It's got to be tough on the batter. It's a great advantage for us or any team to have a lefty and a righty."

The Falcons' defense was a flawless, 13-for-13 on their attempts in the field behind Jordan and Lancaster.

Notes: Lancaster recorded her first career no-hitter in Aycock's 2-1 loss to Fike on April 11 ... Jordan and Lancaster combined for eight strikeouts on the mound and six putouts at first base ... Before the game, former Falcons' standout and Western Carolina's 2006 softball Player of the Year, Jenny Jackson, threw the ceremonial first pitch to another former Aycock standout, catcher April Vick.

2006 Class 3-A

NCHSAA playoffs

Second round

(at Charles B. Aycock HS, Pikeville)

Currituck 000 200 0 -- 2 6 4

C.B. Aycock 004 001 x -- 5 6 0

Leading hitters -- Currituck -- Kaitlin Scanlon 2-3, run; Ashleigh Van Driesen 1-3, run; Justine Ross 0-2, RBI. C.B. Aycock -- Rusti Talton 2-3, RBI; Brittani Edgerton 1-2, RBI; Julia Lancaster 1-3, RBI; Leigh Smith 1-1, 2B, RBI; Jazzmine Lee 2-2, run.



K. Cravens (L) 7 6 5 3 0 5

C.B. Aycock

E. Jordan (W, 5-4) 4 6 2 2 0 5

J. Lancaster (S, 1) 3 0 0 0 0 3