03/18/08 — North Duplin softball stumbles

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North Duplin softball stumbles

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 18, 2008 1:53 PM

CALYPSO -- "This was our bad game."

North Duplin head softball coach Heather Best hopes it's the only mistake-filled contest her senior-laden team will experience this season. The Rebels succumbed to seven uncharacteristic errors and suffered a 13-1, non-conference loss to Union on Monday afternoon.

The Spartans (6-1 overall) swept the regular-season series.

"This was an off game for us and it's all really a learning experience," said Best. "Unfortunately, we saw what happens when you don't hit and you don't play clean defense."

Despite two first-inning errors, senior left-hander Jessica Pridgen wiggled out of trouble with an inning-ending strikeout. She permitted a lead-off walk to start the second inning, but retired the next three batters.

But the Rebels couldn't escape a third time.

Union sent 25 batters to the plate during a three-inning stretch.

An infield error and Katie Robinson's two-RBI double gave Union a 3-0 lead in the third inning. Lauren Hairr's fourth-inning home run, a two-run shot, boosted the lead to 5-0. Hairr, who mashed a ground-rule double in the second inning, finished a triple shy of hitting for the cycle in five at-bats.

The Spartans plated four fifth-inning runs on two hits, two errors, three walks and a hit batsman.

"Union hit the ball well and hit the ball when they got people on," said Best. "They're a good-hitting team and some of those balls just had eyes."

Meanwhile, Union pitcher Morgan King kept North Duplin hitless for three-plus innings. The freshman right-hander retired the first 11 batters she faced until yielding a two-out, fourth-inning single to catcher Elizabeth Lane.

Pridgen mashed a lead-off single in the fifth, but was left stranded at third base. The Rebels avoided the shutout and mercy-rule defeat when Heather Hudson, who reached on an error, crossed home on Kristen Jones' RBI single to left field in the sixth.

King (3-0) logged a five-hit, 10-strikeout outing.

"She had very good location," said Best of King. "She had some good curves and good screwballs. We didn't see the ball well today and those things happen. This was by far our worst-hitting game.

"But you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and go play the next game."

North Duplin (2-2) entertains Lakewood today. First pitch is 4:30 p.m.