Lauren Darden: News-Argus Softball Pitcher of the Year
By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on June 22, 2008 2:03 AM
Too often in sports, statistics tell only half of the story regarding a player's dominance.
The numbers, however, hardly quantify Lauren Darden's performance inside the pitcher's circle this season. The Southern Wayne right-hander logged an eye-popping 251 strikeouts in 1642/3 innings, which helped lead to a 1.02 earned run average.
Darden threw against some of the state's top-level teams and guided the Saints to their first-ever, regular-season co-conference championship in the program's fast-pitch era. They advanced to the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs.
For her efforts, Darden is the 2008 News-Argus All-Area Softball Pitcher of the Year.
The soft-spoken junior was unusually adamant about who to credit with her success.
"I want to be sure to thank coach Wiggs, coach Brannon and coach Underhill," said Darden, who won the award in 2007. "I want to make sure that they get the proper recognition for all they did this year."
Darden also points to Wiggs' help with the mental side of the game. A mentality that she has mastered over the last two seasons.
"Coach really helped me with my confidence and my ability to throw all of my pitches," said Darden. "I come by competitiveness naturally, but he has helped me stay confident during games and stay focused."
Along with the coaching staff, the strikeout queen was also quick to point out the efforts of her Southern Wayne teammates.
"We have a close group, and I am really going to miss the ones who are leaving. I just hope next year we can come together like we did this season," said Darden. "Lindsey (Pearsall), my catcher, it's tough to lose her because she's a senior, and a lot of us have been playing together or against each other for six years."
When Darden looks back on the Saints' slate of victories, one win stands out from all the rest. It was a battle between a former coach and a cross-county rival.
"The one thing I won't forget is beating C.B. Aycock, we hadn't done that in a long time. That was a really special moment," said Darden. "It was kind of intimidating to play against coach Matthews because he knew all my pitches and he knew what I liked to throw."
Always looking ahead, Darden knows that her senior season will offer her the opportunity to showcase her talents to programs at the collegiate level. It's a move she looks forward to, but is not rushing.
"I want to go on to play in college, but I haven't thought about where yet," said Darden. "I am just going to take that situation as it comes. I am not worried about it."
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