06/02/09 — Norwayne keeps streak alive

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Norwayne keeps streak alive

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on June 2, 2009 1:46 PM

FREMONT -- Would this be the year?

Would the 10-year unbeaten streak end?

Would perennial softball power Norwayne Middle School finally taste defeat?

Head coach Dan Millard labored over the questions all fall and winter.

"I knew this year I had some really good players returning, but I was worried about the pitching situation," said Millard. "I've had some dominant pitchers in the past who have or are doing well at C.B. Aycock."

Millard didn't expect his returning hurlers to overpower opponents. A steady defense, along with consistent hitting, would undoubtedly comprise the winning formula, thought the 19-year Cobra mentor.

Pitching factored in, too.

Eighth-grader Savannah Briggs answered the challenge and threw five complete games in the circle. The right-hander received assistance from Taylor Raye, Taylor Mitchell and Sierra Harris.

When it was all said and done, Norwayne's streak remained intact.

The Cobras clinched an unprecedented 11th consecutive Wayne County Middle School Athletic Conference Division I championship, and extended the program's unbeaten streak to an incredible 149 games.

"I really talked with Savannah during the offseason and she worked extremely hard on her own," said Millard. "I am really proud of her and the whole team. The girls did a great job ... believed in themselves and they did it."

Millard also credited catcher Jenna Van Horn.

"She is a two-year starter who did not miss a game," said Millard, who was selected the 2009 WCMSAC Division I coach of the year. "She has been a big part of the team's success the last two seasons."

Norwayne logged a 12-0 worksheet this spring and collected its 16th league title overall during Millard's coaching tenure. The Cobras surrendered a season-high six runs to Grantham and five runs to Division II champion Rosewood.

Millard's team posted five shutouts.

"We made the routine plays and didn't give the other teams extra outs," said Millard.

Offensively, Meredith Burroughs swatted three home runs out of the park during the season. Harris and Raye each smacked one apiece in a road game at Mount Olive. Burroughs went yard in the same game, giving the Cobras a school-record three home runs in one contest.

Millard complemented the team's work ethic, how the players depended on each other to get the job done and how well they bought into the team concept.

"I knew if everyone did their job together, we would come out with the right result," said Millard, whose career record is 241-20. "You don't ever know how long it will take them to click and play as a 'true' team. It just tickled me to see them come out and play well.

"I could tell they would be a fun group to coach ... a special group. I really enjoyed coaching this team."

Norwayne will send 10 rising freshman to Aycock next fall, further building a program that has enjoyed tremendous success in the new millenium. The Golden Falcons are making their first final four appearance in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A playoffs since 2006, and seventh overall in program history since 2000.