04/04/08 — Saints' offense wakes up in middle innings

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Saints' offense wakes up in middle innings

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on April 4, 2008 1:50 PM

DUDLEY -- Southern Wayne shook off the rust from an extended break and turned back Wilson Hunt 6-1 in their Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference softball contest Thursday.

An error allowed Hunt to grab a 1-0 lead.

The Warriors kept the Saints off the board with strong defense from shortstop Janna Joyner. The lanky infielder assisted on seven of the first nine putouts, including two backhanded stops.

As the game progressed and playing conditions deteriorated, Southern Wayne got its act together in the third inning. Christina Williams drilled a lead-off single and scored on Brianna Lofton's double, the first of two on the night.

Tara Hirsch plated Lofton with the go-ahead double and the Saints never relinquished their advantage.

"When you have a long break between games like we did, you never know how a team is going to come out and respond," said first-year Saints head coach Michael Wiggs. "This week we have had three good practices, and I thought we would come out and swing the bats well."

Southern Wayne collected two runs on four hits in the fifth inning. Winning pitcher Lauren Darden aided her cause with a lead-off single. Lofton and Hirsch supplied base hits to push Darden home. Catcher Lindsey Pearsall capped the short offensive surge with an RBI single.

"Our fielding was not crisp early, and we made a few lapses running the bases, but the important thing was that we were able to hold Hunt to just one run" said Wiggins. "We turned a double play that helped keep them off the board, and that was important."

Southern Wayne (8-1 overall, 3-0 ECC) tacked on two additional runs in the sixth inning.

Meredith Davis ripped a single and was followed by a Darden double. Lofton hit the hardest ball of the night, her second double, and drove in the final Saint run.

"Brianna hit the ball really well, and I can't say enough about her effort," Wiggs said. "I was concerned when she ran into the fence in the left field corner, but you can't take hustle away from a kid. And one thing is for sure, Brianna is going to hustle."

Wiggs said the ECC is starting to take shape.

"Hunt is great competition. C.B. Aycock is great competition ... scratching out a win tonight was important," he said. "This puts us in a good position in the standings at this point."

Weather permitting, Southern Wayne visits county rival Eastern Wayne today. First pitch is 7 p.m.