05/08/07 — Rosewood edges archrival Princeton

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Rosewood edges archrival Princeton

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 8, 2007 2:55 PM

Rosewood head softball coach Debbie Bailey and assistant coach Deik Reinhard have seen the Eagles wilt under defensive pressure throughout the season.

Not Monday afternoon.

And certainly not on senior day.

The Eagles survived three defensive errors and edged archrival Princeton 2-1 in the Class 1-A Carolina Conference regular-season finale for both teams. Rosewood (11-11 overall) earned a critical split in the series and denied the Dawgs' bid to emerge the outright league champion.

Princeton, instead, finished 8-2 against Carolina opposition and will share the title with county archrival North Johnston. Bulldog athletics director Al Musgrave said the teams will square off Wednesday at Princeton to determine the No. 1 seed for the upcoming N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs.

Game time is 4 p.m.

"Even with the defensive mistakes, they picked themselves up and were determined to play today," said Bailey. "I've seen our girls fold under pressure, but they definitely didn't crumble today."

The second defensive hiccup almost led to a 2-2 tie.

Becca Harlan reached on a one-out error and rounded third for home on Jill Whitley's double down the right-field line in the fifth inning. Eagle right fielder Paige Babb scooped up the ball and second baseman Jennifer Hall cut off the throw.

Hall turned around and fired a perfect strike to catcher Jessica Price, who tagged a sliding Harlan for the second out.

"I'd send her again any day and take my chances on a good throw," said PHS head coach Terry Braswell.

Princeton (13-6) threatened again in the sixth, but erased two runners on fielder's choice groundouts. Sarah Eonta laced a lead-off single up the middle in the seventh, but Price caught her stealing second base.

Eagle right-hander Haile Meadows retired the next two batters to end the game. The Dawgs managed just three hits and stranded three of five base runners in scoring position.

"We weren't hitting the ball solid and things just didn't work for us," said Braswell. "We never did start playing ball. Monday blues, I reckon. Normally we are a little sluggish on Mondays, but I didn't think it would be like this.

"That's the worst game we've played in a while."

Rosewood collected five hits off Princeton right-handers April Keene and Amber Wood. Senior shortstop Courtney Hill and senior third baseman Aubrey Reinhard, who were playing their final home game, combined for three hits.

Christina Bruton batted 1-for-4, but her lead-off single in the first inning proved crucial for the Eagles. With one out, Keene issued back-to-back walks to Hill and clean-up batter Caitlin Armer.

Price singled home Bruton and Hill crossed the plate on Meadow's fielder's choice grounder to short. Rosewood led 2-0.

Meadows preserved the two-run lead until she relinquished a lead-off walk to Keene in the third inning. Brittany Baker grounded out to plate Keene and pull the Dawgs within 2-1.

Meadows avoided any further damage and finished with three strikeouts in a complete-game effort.

"Haile did a great job for us today," said Bailey. "It took her a couple of innings to get warmed up and she came through for us. Even with all the defensive mistakes, they picked up themselves up and gave extra effort -- for themselves and our seniors.

"This is probably the biggest win of our season."

With the victory, Rosewood (6-4 Carolina) seized third place in the league and avoided an opening-round playoff game at defending state champion Pender. The Eagles will travel to the Super Six champion, while Ayden-Grifton gets Pender.

The Princeton-North Johnston winner will entertain the No. 4 representative from the Super Six Conference. The loser gets a home contest against the Coastal Plains No. 3 finisher.

The playoffs begin next Tuesday.

Princeton 001 000 0 -- 1 3 2

Rosewood 200 000 x -- 2 5 3

Leading hitters -- Princeton -- Amber Wood 1-3, 2B; Sarah Eonta 1-1; Jill Whitley 1-3, 2B; Brittany Baker RBI. Rosewood -- Courtney Hill 2-2; Jessica Price 1-3, RBI; Christina Bruton 1-3; Aubrey Reinhard 1-2.

LOB -- Princeton 5, Rosewood 7. SB -- Meadows, Braswell. CS -- Eonta.



Keene (L) 4 4 2 2 4 8

Am. Wood 2 1 0 0 0 4


Meadows (W) 7 3 1 0 2 3

T -- 1:17.