Aycock softball opens ECC season with 8-inning thriller
By Rob Craig
Published in Sports on March 21, 2007 2:45 PM
PIKEVILLE -- Julia Lancaster needed this win.
The senior pitcher from Charles B. Aycock entered the game with an 0-3 record and had thrown eight scoreless innings Tuesday against Wilson Beddingfield.
Lancaster had risen to every challenge the Bruins threw at her. Now, however, she needed her team to get a hit.
With one out in the eighth inning and the winning run standing on third base, Brittany Ford delivered.
Ford's bloop single lifted the Golden Falcons to a hard-fought 1-0 victory in their Eastern Carolina 3-A conference opener.
"Julia did everything she was supposed to do on the mound," said Aycock coach David West. "She needed that win. I hated that she had to go eight innings to get it, but she worked hard for it and pitched great."
The game was a classic pitchers' duel with Lancaster and Beddingfield hurler Ana Cooke trading strikeouts and 1-2-3 innings.
"I came out prepared tonight," said Lancaster. "I've been practicing all week and preparing for Beddingfield and I just tried to do my best."
The game, however, almost didn't make it to extra innings as the Bruins had multiple chances to plate a run.
In the first inning, Beddingfield put two runners on when Nicole de la Rosa doubled with one out and Kelly Minshaw reached on an error.
Lancaster buckled down and struck out Laci Greene swinging and got Cooke to ground out to end the frame.
Meanwhile, Cooke flew through her first six innings, allowing just three hits during that span while striking out 10.
Lancaster had to work a little harder as she got into trouble again during the third inning when Beddingfield loaded the bases with only one out.
As she would do again later in the game, Lancaster got the big outs when she needed them She fanned Cooke swinging and got a ground out from Casey Elliott to strand the runners.
"Julia's a competitor," said West. "Some pitchers might get frustrated, but not her. That just made her bear down harder.
"That's a mark of a senior pitcher with a lot of maturity."
After getting out of the jam, Lancaster and catcher Rusti Talton teamed up to dominate the Beddingfield hitters.
Lancaster came back to strike out the side in the fourth and retired the side on just three pitches in the sixth.
Talton helped Lancaster strike out 12 batters during her eight innings.
"I thought Rusti Talton probably called one of her best games of her career," said West. "That was an awesome job out there."
Aycock was once again in trouble in the top of the seventh when two hits and a sacrifice put Beddingfield runners on second and third with two outs. Minshaw -- who already had two hits -- then came up and battled Lancaster to a full count.
On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Lancaster got Minshaw to strike out looking to end the threat.
"In that situation, I was just trying to get a pitch in the strike zone," said Lancaster. "She's a very good hitter -- I've been facing her for a very long time now."
The hurler pumped her fist and raced off the mound to a big high-five from her coach.
"I was very excited -- overwhelmed," Lancaster said.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Golden Falcons would get Lancaster her win.
Stevie Savage singled up the middle to lead off. Anna Sullivan bunted her over and Jazzmine Lee singled to put runners on first and third.
Ford then played hero for Aycock with the walk-off hit.
"I jumped up about three or four feet," Lancaster said of her reaction to Ford's hit. "It's good to know that I can count on my teammates to get a big hit."
The win improves Aycock to 4-3 (1-0) and improves Lancaster to 1-3 on the season.
"We're the beneficiary for all the defense, great pitching and great pitch calling we got tonight," said West. "I thought Julia's team really helped her. I'm glad she got that first win behind her."
Beddingfield 000 000 00 -- 0 6 1
C.B. Aycock 000 000 01 -- 1 6 1
Leading Hitters -- Beddingfield -- Kelly Minshaw 2-4; Nicole de la Rosa 1-2. C.B. Aycock -- Brittany Ford 2-4, RBI; Jazzmine Lee 2-3.
LOB -- Beddingfield 9, C.B. Aycock -- 3. SB -- Minshaw, Farmer. CS -- Farmer. S -- De la Rosa, Dobbin, Sullivan.
IP H R ER BB SO
Cooke (L) 71/3 6 1 1 0 11
Lancaster (W, 1-3) 8 6 0 0 1 12
One out when the winning run scored. PB -- Talton. HBP -- by Lancaster (T. Elliott).
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