05/11/08 — Golden Falcons repeat as champs

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Golden Falcons repeat as champs

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on May 11, 2008 2:01 AM

PIKEVILLE -- Momentum cannot be truly appreciated until it's gone.

Southern Wayne learned that in a matter of minutes Friday evening.

Archrival Charles B. Aycock benefited from a second-inning rule interpretation and claimed a 5-1 victory in the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference softball tournament championship. The Golden Falcons (19-4 overall) seized the No. 1 seed for the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs, which begin Tuesday.

Leigh Smith and Cara Frederick put Aycock ahead 2-0 with first-inning, run-scoring singles.

The Saints (19-5) threatened during their second at-bat.

Meredith Davis connected on a lead-off single and moved into scoring position on Jordan Hill's hit. The controversial and momentum-killing play occurred after Kayla Gracyk's sacrifice bunt.

Lead-off batter Brianna Lofton hit a grounder between the pitcher's circle and third base. Aycock's Emily Jordan fired to Smith at first base and as Lofton arrived to the bag the ball bounced into the fence in foul territory.

Davis and Hill scampered home on the error, but the runs were erased off the scoreboard. The umpire ruled Lofton out for being inside the baseline.

"The only problem I had with the situation was the play had ended before anything was ever determined," said Saints head coach Michael Wiggs. "We could have gotten a player hurt in that situation. As far as the call being right or wrong, it didn't make a difference in the game, but it did make a difference in the momentum.

"It could have been a 2-2 game and that changed the outlook a lot."

Tori Benton extended Aycock's lead to 3-0 with a solo, third-inning home run. Stevie Savage (2-for-3) delivered an RBI single in the fourth inning and Smith trotted home on Frederick's fifth-inning single. Frederick went 3-for-3 with two RBI.

"We want to win every inning," said Golden Falcons head coach Brad Matthews. "We know if we win every inning, we're going to win the ballgame. We didn't get satisfied with just a couple of runs, we kept trying to peck away. We were focused and my girls really wanted it."

Mount Olive College signee Alyssa Bradshaw (2-for-4) delivered a fifth-inning RBI single for the Saints. Southern Wayne left the bases loaded in the fifth and stranded 10 runners in all.

"That hurts bad," said Wiggs. "You've got to take advantage of the opportunities given to you. We left runners on throughout the night. That's kind of been our cardinal sin all year."

Jordan threw a seven-hitter and recorded three strikeouts in the complete-game effort. The senior left-hander avoided trouble in the first, second and fifth innings with runners on base.

"She didn't really have her 'A' game," said Matthews. "I don't think she struck out many batters, but her defense played good behind her and she had good location. She was keeping the ball in on their hands. When they did hit it, it was just over the infield."

Saints right-hander Lauren Darden took the loss on the mound.

Both teams return home for playoff games on Tuesday. Aycock entertains a wild-card entry, while Southern Wayne welcomes the Mid-State No. 3 representative. First pitch is 7 p.m.