06/02/09 — Golden Falcons learned from tough schedule

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Golden Falcons learned from tough schedule

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on June 2, 2009 1:46 PM

PIKEVILLE -- To be the best, you have to beat the best.

The cliche certainly fits the Charles B. Aycock softball team this season, which carries an impressive resume into Friday's eastern regional final at Walnut Creek.

The Golden Falcons' regular-season slate featured defending 3-A state champion South Central, top-ranked D.H. Conley and traditional powers Northern Nash and Erwin Triton. C.B. Aycock finished with a 6-1 combined mark against those perennial non-conference powers.

Aycock repeated as the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference regular-season champion, but faced tough tests against county archrival Southern Wayne and Wilson Hunt. The Saints handed the Golden Falcons one of their two losses in the ECC tournament semifinals.

Hunt lost to Conley in the eastern quarterfinals.

"Scheduling some of the best teams in the state was a focus of mine after last season ended," said second-year Golden Falcons' head coach Brad Matthews. "That experience is a big factor at this point in the year because we know how good the teams are at this level."

The No. 5-ranked Golden Falcons face a familiar opponent Friday -- No. 8-ranked Erwin Triton. Aycock swept the regular-season series by scores of 10-4 and 3-0.

Despite two victories over the Hawks, there is no looking ahead. Matthews' team underwent a hard practice underneath a hot June sun Monday afternoon.

"I think we are ready to play," said Matthews. "I honestly think that our team is ready to go right now. I wish we played tomorrow. Triton is a good team and they have a very strong lineup so I don't think our girls are taking them lightly at all."

Aycock (25-2 overall) has outscored its opponents 21-3 in the postseason. The Golden Falcons shut out Greensboro Dudley and Washington, and allowed one run against South Central.

Triton held Matthews' team scoreless until the sixth inning in their previous meeting.

"I really think the game will come down to one hit or one big defensive play," said Matthews. "The four teams left all have very good teams, and we know that we have to keep our heads and play our best game."

First pitch is 5 p.m.