03/27/07 — Darden stars in Southern Wayne's win

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Darden stars in Southern Wayne's win

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 27, 2007 2:49 PM

DUDLEY -- Lauren Darden is in a groove.

The Southern Wayne right-hander turned in another phenomenal performance in the pitcher's circle Monday afternoon. Darden notched 12 strikeouts and retired the final 11 batters she faced in the Saints' 3-0, non-conference triumph over North Lenoir.

Darden struck out every Hawk batter at least once and yielded just one hit in the 80-minute contest. She encountered just four batters over the minimum for a seven-inning game (21) and posted her fifth shutout of the season.

"Lauren pitched a great game," said Southern Wayne head coach Brad Matthews. "She was throwing a screwball today and it was working pretty good. She was coming in (on the hitters) and then going away.

"She mixed it up pretty good."

Darden consistently jammed the Hawks, who misfired on several bunt attempts in the early innings. Once they fell behind in the count, they struggled to put the ball in play.

"Way too many strikeouts," lamented Hawks head coach Heather Carson. "We have to be able to put the ball in play so hopefully they'll make defensive errors.

"We only had one bunt put down the entire game."

Matthews expected the bunt.

"They've got some speed on their team and I knew they tried to bunt," said Matthews. "They just didn't execute on them. If they execute there, the game could have been a lot different.

"I warned my girls before the game they were going to bunt the ball."

North Lenoir (7-3) put four runners on base, but left three in scoring position. Darden yielded a first-inning walk and her lone hit to senior Brittany Sanders. She recorded back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning.

The Hawks' Lauren Hudson drew a two-out walk in the third and didn't score. Losing pitcher Conner Jordan reached on an infield error in the fourth, but was stranded at second base after Emily Brown executed the visitors' lone successful bunt.

"Darden pitched good, kept moving the ball in and out," said Carson. "We didn't know what was coming, but we'll work on that.".

Southern Wayne catcher Lindsey Pearsall delivered the game-winning RBI in the third inning. Lynn Grantham stroked a two-out triple to right field and trotted home on Pearsall's sharply-hit single to the same spot.

The Saints loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth, but manufactured just one run. Brianna Lofton and Alyssa Bradshaw (3-for-4) cranked out back-to-back base hits and Jordan walked Grantham to load the bases. Pearsall drove in Lofton to make it 2-0.

Jordan fanned the next two Saints and induced an inning-ending groundout to escape any further damage. The passive attitude bothered Matthews, whose team batted 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position in the fifth, and 3-for-10 for the game overall.

"That inning where we had the bases loaded with no outs and good hitters striking out, that kind of concerned me," said Matthews, whose team stranded six of eight runners in scoring position. "We've just got to compete right then. You have to know you can do it. You just have to battle hard and put the bat on the ball."

Pinch-hitter Taylor Reaves (1-for-1) provided the Saints' final run.

Southern Wayne (11-1 overall) claimed its fifth consecutive victory and snapped North Lenoir's six-game win streak. The Hawks, of the Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference, fell to 2-1 against Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference teams this season.

North Lenoir 000 000 0 -- 0 1 1

So. Wayne 001 011 x -- 3 8 1

Leading hitters -- North Lenoir -- Brittany Sanders 1-3. Southern Wayne -- Alyssa Bradshaw 3-4; Lynn Grantham 1-1, 3B; Lindsey Pearsall 2-3, 2 RBI; Taylor Reaves 1-1.

LOB -- N. Lenoir 4, So. Wayne 8. SB -- Lofton, Fail, Sutton. SH -- Brown, Me. Davis.


North Lenoir

Jordan (L) 6 8 3 2 4 7

Southern Wayne

Darden (W, 9-1) 7 1 0 0 2 12

WP -- Jordan.

T -- 1:20.