Southwestern Randolph eliminates Aycock from 3-A final four
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on June 4, 2006 2:22 AM
RALEIGH -- Charles B. Aycock's overall balance at the plate was a key factor in its march to the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A softball final four.
In their two games at Walnut Creek this weekend, the Golden Falcons never found that familiar offensive consistency.
Southwestern Randolph pitchers -- Valerie Campbell and Brittany Marsh -- limited Aycock to just five hits and allowed only one baserunner to reach second base as the Cougars emerged with a 1-0 win in an elimination game Saturday afternoon.
C.B. Aycock, the Eastern Carolina Conference regular-season and tournament champion, finished the season at 19-9 overall.
In 14 innings against Harnett Central and Southwestern, the Falcons scored no runs and managed just seven hits. After hitting over .300 as a team coming into the final four, Aycock managed just a .145 clip and was just 2-for-14 with runners on base.
"Our pitching was great this weekend, but you just can't pitch your way through this," Aycock coach David West said. "We've had that hitting all year, but it seems like the last two years our bats just went sour when we got here."
Aycock junior right-hander Julia Lancaster yielded only one hit in her six innings of work in a hard-luck loss. She struck out six, including the last batter she faced, and walked just one.
The Cougars, who had just completed a grueling 1-0 loss in 16 innings to defending state champion Kings Mountain in the western final, scratched for their only run in the fifth.
Kristyn Trogdon started the inning with a bloop single just out of reach of Aycock shortstop Shelly Lancaster, then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Natalie Haithcox. After Trogdon advanced to third on a wild pitch, Marsh brought her home with an RBI groundout.
Southwestern hit just three balls into the outfield in 20 at-bats, but managed to manufacture the game-winning run.
"It was tough after losing such an emotional game against Kings Mountain," SWR coach Steve Taylor said. "When you get to Walnut Creek, you have to do the little things. It just came down to who was going to get someone in scoring position and take advantage of it."
In the top of the first, Aycock lead-off hitter Brittany Ford just missed a home run-- slugging a 3-2 pitch deep to left, before Cougars' left fielder Kendra Cox tracked it down and fell into the outfield fence.
Falcon catcher Rusti Talton led off the second and fifth with singles to left against the left-handed Campbell. But each time Aycock failed to sacrifice Talton's courtesy runner, Heather Farmer, to second.
Farmer was forced out at second on a 5-4 putout on a bunt attempt in the second inning. In the fifth, Farmer was doubled off at first when a bunt try was popped up. Both proved to be the second out of those innings.
Aycock's Stevie Savage and Kandace Burroughs each tallied one-out hits against Marsh, a righty, in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively.
Marsh struck out the final two batters she faced in the sixth before pitching out of a tough jam in the seventh. After Burroughs' hit, Marsh induced a groundout for the second out. Brittani Edgerton followed with a single to put the tying run on second with two outs.
Marsh finished off her team's win and ended Aycock's impressive season by getting Leigh Smith to pop to the mound for the final out of the game.
"We didn't execute, but we didn't quit either," West said. "Brittani's hit was big at the end of the game, and we still had that chance. We went down swinging."
With a berth in the championship game at stake, the Cougars faced the loser of Harnett Central and Kings Mountain later on Saturday.
Edgerton, Burroughs, Staci Barnes and Chelsey Byers played in their final games for Aycock.
Notes: The Falcons played with ribbons in their hair with the letters "RIP JPS" honoring the memory of classmate John Paul Setliff, who was tragically shot and killed earlier this week ... In 14 innings of work, Aycock's two pitchers -- Emily Jordan and Lancaster -- allowed just one earned run and six hits. ... The Falcons are now 5-12 overall at Walnut Creek in their six trips and exited 0-2 for the first time since 2001.
2006 N.C. High School
Class 3-A Final Four
(at Walnut Creek Softball Complex, Raleigh)
C.B. Aycock 000 000 0 -- 0 5 1
SW Randolph 000 010 x -- 1 1 0
Leading hitters -- C.B. Aycock -- Rusti Talton 2-3; Kandace Burroughs 1-3; Brittani Edgerton 1-3; Stevie Savage 1-2. SW Randolph -- Kristyn Trogdon 1-2; Brittany Marsh RBI.
IP H R ER BB SO
J. Lancaster (L, 14-4) 6 1 1 1 1 6
Campbell (W) 5 2 0 0 0 1
Marsh (S) 2 3 0 0 0 3
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