Meet The Teams
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on May 31, 2006 2:45 PM
*Mascot: Golden Falcons
*Conference: Eastern Carolina
*Coach: David West
*Final four history: Sixth trip in seven years; Fourth in five years under West.
*On the season: Started out 1-5, only to rebound with 18 wins in their last 20 outings to finish 19-7. Finished 9-1 in the ECC and claimed the inaugural league tournament with wins over Southern Wayne and Wilson Beddingfield. Defeated South Central (3-1), Currituck (5-2) and Wilson Fike (11-1) in the playoffs.
*Leaders: Junior pitcher Julia Lancaster owns a 14-2 record, including four shutouts, and has a 1.29 ERA with 150 strikeouts (8.8 per game). Sophomore Emily Jordan is 5-4 with a 3.77 ERA. Opponents are hitting a combined .185 against Lancaster and Jordan. Balanced team, hitting a combined .309 with seven players over .300 -- Kandace Burroughs (Sr, 1B), Brittani Edgerton (Sr., 2B), Chelsey Byers (Sr., OF), Rusti Talton (Jr., C), Brittany Ford (So., LF), Leigh Smith (So., IF/OF) and Stevie Savage (So., 3B). Shelly Lancaster (Jr., SS) is the team leader in RBIs (26) and home runs (5). Jazzmine Lee (Jr., RF), Jasmine Dobbin (Jr., CF) and Ford have combined to score 40 runs.
*Quotable: "We've had a different person step up every time, and some have stepped up all the time," West said. "But if there is a little hole in the lineup or someone was sick, somebody else stepped up. You've got to be proud of that."
*Conference: Cape Fear Valley
*Coach: Craig Rogers
*Final four history: Making their third trip in four years under Rogers, defeated Aycock twice in 2004 before falling to West Rowan in the championship.
*On the season: Finished 25-3, going unbeaten in the CFV regular season and tournament. Only losses were to West Johnston, Fuquay-Varina and North Moore.
*Leaders: Junior lefty Lauren Taylor is 24-2. The southpaw yielded 10 hits but kept Southern Alamance to one run in the Eastern semifinals. Brittany Surles (Sr., 1B), Ashley Crewe (Jr., C) are the team leaders, while Heather Nobles (So., 3B), Toni Ann Williford (So., SS) and Ginny Harrington (So., CF) are talented under classmen.
*Quotable: "We've had a good year defensively. I've been pleased with that especially. We've hit the ball better this year as a team," Rogers said. "I've got the utmost respect for David (West) and his program. He's in a similar situation that I was in last year ... he lost Jenny Jackson like I lost Lauren Caviness. I don't know what he's doing up there, but he's doing it right."
*Hometown: Kings Mountain
*Coach: Suzanne Grayson
*Final four history: Back for the second-straight year after winning the state title in their first trip to Walnut Creek in 2005.
*On the season: The Mountaineers take a 26-1 record into the final four.
*Leaders: Right-hander Morgan Childers, one of seven seniors, has nine no-hitters this year, including an 18-strikeout performance in the western semifinals against Belmont South Point. Brittney Thornburg (Sr., 1B), Kala Buchanam (Sr., 1B), Laronda McClain (Sr., CF), Kristyn Funderburke (Sr., 3B) and Lauren Gaffney (Sr., LF) are all making their second trip to Walnut Creek.
*Quotable: "They say it's nice to have experience and to have been there before, but you have to wait and play it out and see," Grayson said. "The excitement is there and the girls no a little bit more about what to expect, but whether that translates to a few more hits you don't really know. All the teams that are there are quality. Last year we had a little bit of luck too. You have to have a little of that along with the skill of your players."
*Coach: Steve Taylor
*Final four history: Going back to Walnut Creek for the second time in three years under Taylor.
*On the season: Finished 23-3 and advanced to the final four on a game-winning hit in the bottom of the eighth by Kendra Cox against Monroe Piedmont in the Western semifinals.
*Leaders: Anna Maness (63 1/3), Brittany Marsh (49 2/3) and Valerie Campbell (39) have combined to do all of the work in the circle. Twelve players with at least 26 at bats are hitting over .300, led by Marsh (.450), Natalie Haithcox (.468), Crystal Hall (.441), Ashley Seawell (.570) and Kristyn Trogdon (.416).
*Quotable: "I like that they are playing team ball and they are all friends," Taylor said. "They all had the same common goal, which was to get to Raleigh. Hopefully we will continue to stay together this weekend."
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