04/08/08 — Faith falls to Wilmington Christian

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Faith falls to Wilmington Christian

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 8, 2008 3:16 PM

One timely hit.

The scenario plagued the Faith Christian softball team all afternoon during its 5-4, nine-inning loss to fellow N.C. Christian Schools member Wilmington Christian.

The Conquerors stranded 10 runners, including nine in scoring position with less than two outs. They left the game-winning run aboard twice in the seventh and eighth innings. And they couldn't push across the game-winning run in the ninth.

"A big hit ... we just didn't get it," said Faith Christian coach Jeff Stocks.

Wilmington Christian controlled the non-region contest between the two reigning state champions for four-plus innings. Each time the Patriots put a runner on base, they pressured the Conquerors' defense with aggressive running.

An infield single, stolen base and error set up Wilmington's first run. Brittany Tighe and Erica Brewer stretched third-inning doubles into triples and each scored on a groundout to put the Patriots ahead 3-0.

"We like to be aggressive ... take the extra base and chance it, so to speak," said Wilmington coach Robert Upton, whose team has won back-to-back NCCSA 3-A crowns. "That's been our signature (all season). We pushed the envelope in the third (inning) and that made a difference in the game."

Faith Christian pulled within 3-2 in the fifth inning.

Bethany Dale drew a lead-off walk and advanced to second on Madison Caudle's groundout. Dale trotted home on a passed ball and Brook Anderson, who singled in the inning, scampered home on a wild pitch.

The Patriots added a sixth-inning run before the Conquerors found their timing against eighth-grade hurler Blair Lawrence. Limited to five hits in six-plus innings, Faith Christian doubled its offensive output during the seventh inning.

"I had to change the rotation of pitches we were throwing when they got people on base," said Upton. "We wanted to keep them on and not let them score. Their timing caught up with (Lawrence) and being off for a week, I think she wore down a little bit, also."

Caudle, who led the Conquerors' defense with 20 putouts, dropped a one-strike pitch into shallow right field. Caudle advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on Jennifer Christopher's two-strike shot down the right-field line.

Renee Provencal tied the game at 4-4 with a run-scoring single into left field. Provencal moved to third on Brittany Dale's two-strike base it. With Kaitlyn Floars at the plate, Lawrence uncorked a wild pitch that bounced toward the backstop.

Provencal headed toward the plate, stopped in her tracks and returned to third base. Floars grounded out to send the game into extra innings.

"An error here, a base-running mistake there ... you never know," said Stocks of the seventh-inning comeback.

Tighe led off the Patriots' eighth with a single, but was thrown out at second base by Provencal. Christopher, who threw a complete-game seven-hitter, easily retired the next two batters.

Lindsey Godwin started the Faith Christian eighth by reaching on an error. She moved to third on a fielder's choice play and stood there when Patriots' shortstop Havilah Luce snagged an inning-ending, line-drive shot by Anderson.

Wilmington profited from a ninth-inning throwing error.

The Conquerors, the two-time defending NCCSA 2-A champs, got a lead-off double from Christopher in the ninth. Lawrence retired the next three batters as the Patriots swept the regular-season series.

"The girls hit shots that could have won the game for us, but hit them right to somebody," said Stocks. "We hit better than I thought we would after this (eight-day) layoff. We hadn't seen a girl (pitch) that fast in two or three weeks.

"I'm disappointed with the loss, but not with our effort."