Saints suffer first setback
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 24, 2008 3:35 PM
WILSON -- Southern Wayne entered Wednesday's contest at Wilson Hunt on the verge of winning its first conference title in softball since 1992.
The Saints will have to wait a little longer.
The Warriors played stellar defense for seven innings and pulled off a stunning 5-0 upset in Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference play. The loss prevented Southern Wayne from clinching at least a share of the ECC crown.
"We didn't do some timely things and they did some timely things," said Saints head coach Michael Wiggs. "We had just three strikeouts and hit balls right at them all night. They made the plays.
"They're a real good defensive team."
Southern Wayne (16-3 overall, 7-1 ECC) left six runners on base, including two in the crucial fifth inning. Kayla Gracyk cranked a one-out single and moved to second on Brianna Lofton's base hit.
One out later, shortstop Alyssa Bradshaw blooped a single into shallow left center field. The Hunt defense cleared the ball and Wiggs smartly held Gracyk up at third base.
"If they threw to the plate, we were dead," said Wiggs. "I thought if we make an out here, I won't sleep all night long with Lindsey (Pearsall) in the on-deck circle."
However, Pearsall never got an at-bat. Lofton ran past second base and got tagged out to end the inning.
"That was our biggest opportunity of the game," said Wiggs.
Hunt led 2-0 at the time and added three more runs to claim its sixth ECC win of the season.
Lofton and Pearsall led Southern Wayne with two hits apiece. Bradshaw, Gracyk and Meredith Davis each supplied one hit.
Right-hander Lauren Darden yielded six hits and fanned five Warrior batters in a complete-game effort. The defense committed three uncharacteristic errors behind her, which led to three unearned runs.
The Saints get another chance at the league title Friday evening against county archrival Charles B. Aycock. First pitch is 7 p.m. in Dudley.
"I think a positive thing (from the loss) was I saw a lot of emotion ... tears from my girls on the bus," said Wiggs. "They were upset. I told them you learn a lot more from losing than winning. We're still in control of our own destiny."
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