05/01/09 — Aycock strikes early vs. Saints

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Aycock strikes early vs. Saints

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 1, 2009 1:46 PM

PIKEVILLE -- The drama never surfaced.

Charles B. Aycock made sure of it.

The Golden Falcons posted runs in five of six innings and dispatched county rival Southern Wayne 8-1 in a battle of top-10 softball teams Thursday evening.

Ranked No. 5 in the latest N.C. High School Fast-pitch Coaches Association poll, C.B. Aycock completed a perfect campaign (10-0) in Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference regular-season play. The Golden Falcons swept the regular-season series from the Saints.

"That was our goal at the beginning of the year," said second-year Golden Falcons head coach Brad Matthews of the ECC title run. "My girls worked really hard and I'm proud of every single one of them."

First-year varsity starter Autumn Pittman logged another superb outing in the pitcher's circle. The right-hander permitted one unearned run on seven hits, fanned five Saints' batters and didn't yield a walk in six innings of work.

Pittman threw 76 pitches, including 57 strikes.

"She threw a lot of strikes and that's why she was successful," said Matthews. "You can't ask for a better performance than that."

Cynthia Burroughs retired the Saints on strikeouts in the seventh.

Southern Wayne (10-10 overall, 4-4 ECC) had just seven runners reach base in the 98-minute contest. Aycock catcher Anna Sullivan gunned two runners down at second base.

The Saints, ranked No. 10 in the NCHSFA poll, stranded two of four runners in scoring position. They plated a second-inning run to avoid the shutout.

"We swung the ball well in some situations and were aggressive," said Southern Wayne head coach Michael Wiggs. "Aycock had the hits with runners on and had some extra-base hits. We've got to be more effective with runners in scoring position."

Pittman wiggled out of trouble in the first inning.

Jordan Coor connected on a lead-off single, but was thrown out by Sullivan as she attempted to steal second base. Tara Hirsch reached on a two-out single, but Pittman coaxed Morgan Davis into an inning-ending groundout.

"I called for the sacrifice bunt to get Jordan into scoring position and we couldn't get that done," said Wiggs. "I give the steal sign and I didn't think we got a good jump. That kind of settled everything down."

Aycock answered the challenge.

Brooke Bell poked a lead-off single into left field, stole second and scored on Sullivan's base knock up the middle. Courtesy runner Shamyka Polite replaced Sullivan and eventually scored on a wild pitch for the 2-0 lead.

Sullivan smacked a solo homer, her second of the season, in the third inning. The Golden Falcons pushed six runs across in their final three collective at-bats in the game.

Saints right-hander Lauren Darden threw 127 pitches and allowed nine runs (six earned) on eight hits. The Golden Falcons scored three runs on three wild pitches.

"You want to score runs early and put pressure on the defense by doing the little things," said Matthews. "It makes her (Darden) start thinking more (in the circle). She got behind in the count tonight and I think that's why our hitters did so well."