03/22/07 — Davis pitches Saints to win

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Davis pitches Saints to win

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 22, 2007 2:49 PM

DUDLEY -- Pitcher Lauren Darden has undoubtedly spoiled her Southern Wayne teammates this season.

The right-handed sophomore hasn't allowed many hits and has sent numerous opposing batters back to the dugout with a "K" -- strikeout -- by their name. But Darden didn't take the mound Wednesday afternoon against perennial Class 1-A power North Johnston.

Morgan Davis did instead. The sophomore right-hander overcame a shaky third inning and survived a fifth-inning injury to lead the Saints past the Panthers 10-5.

"Defensively, I think this game helps us because they put a lot of balls play and we had to play defense today," said Southern Wayne head coach Brad Matthews. "Lauren has done so good pitching and we haven't had a lot of plays to make (behind her). Today, we had to make a lot of plays."

Darden warmed up in the bullpen, but experienced some soreness in her right arm. Matthews speculated she might have stretched some tendons due to throwing more off-speed pitches that involve a stronger snapping motion.

Matthews inserted Davis into the lineup during the coaches' pre-game meeting with the umpires at home plate.

Davis struck out three of the first six Panthers she faced, and ended the day with four strikeouts in a complete-game effort. The Saints (9-1 overall) committed just one error on 21 putout attempts behind her. Sophomore second baseman Taylor Reaves notched four putouts and an assist in five innings, while catcher Lindsey Pearsall recorded five putouts.

Meanwhile, the Panthers (4-5) failed to give right-handed pitcher Jessica Narron any defensive support the first two innings. The visitors committed two errors which led to four unearned runs.

"Poor Jessica, that's been happening to her every game this year; not getting defensive support," said North Johnston head coach George Daniels. "We've been playing on hard infields all year long, and this was a smooth, fair infield I thought.

"We said to knock it down, keep it in front of you and make the play. And not dwell on it (an error)."

Southern Wayne parlayed three hits, two errors, two wild pitches and a hit batter into a 6-0 lead after two innings. Brianna Lofton had two singles and stole two bases, while Lynn Grantham and Pearsall drove in one run apiece.

North Johnston, the defending Carolina 1-A Conference champion, answered with a five-run third inning. The Panthers pulled within 6-5 on Amanda Sharpe's two-RBI single and Kayla Whitley's two-run homer off the scoreboard in left center field.

Davis settled down and allowed just four base runners in the last four innings combined. She took a hard shot to her left knee during the fifth inning, but rebounded to retire nine of the final 11 batters she faced.

"They had one big inning where they hit the ball really well," said Matthews. "I can't say enough about Morgan. She did a good job and then she gets hit by the batter, but toughens it up and keeps on going.

"I was really worried there."

The Saints iced the game with a five-run, fifth-inning outburst. Davis and Haley Fail each collected an RBI. Davis scored on a wild pitch and Reaves, who reached base on an error, tallied the final run on another error.

Southern Wayne steps back into Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference play today with a 5 p.m. contest at Wilson Beddingfield. The Saints are 1-0 in the league, while the Bruins are 0-1 after an eight-inning loss Tuesday evening at Charles B. Aycock.

N. Johnston 005 000 0 -- 5 7 4

So. Wayne 420 040 x -- 10 9 1

Leading hitters -- North Johnston -- Shanice Williams 2-3, RBI; Amanda Sharpe 1-4, 2 RBI; Kayla Whitley 1-4, HR, 2 RBI. Southern Wayne -- Brianna Lofton 2-4; Lynn Grantham 2-3, RBI; Lindsey Pearsall 1-3, RBI; Morgan Davis 1-2, RBI; Haley Fail 2 RBI.

DP -- North Johnston 1. LOB -- North Johnston 5, Southern Wayne 6. SB -- Lofton 2. SH -- Fail, Wood. SF -- Williams.


North Johnston

Narron (L) 6 8 10 5 2 0

Wood 1 1 0 0 0 1

Southern Wayne

Mo. Davis (W) 7 7 5 5 2 5

WP -- Mo. Davis 4, Narron 5. PB -- Pearsall. HBP -- Mo. Davis (by Narron).

T -- 1:31.