06/05/09 — Golden Falcons, Hawks battle for higher stakes

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Golden Falcons, Hawks battle for higher stakes

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on June 5, 2009 1:46 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Familiarity breeds respect.

Perennial eastern powers Charles B. Aycock and Triton meet for the third time this season for higher stakes -- the 3-A regional championship -- today at the Walnut Creek softball complex.

The Golden Falcons are aware of the Hawks' potential.

"They are a good team and they have some hitters in the middle of their lineup that can make things happen," said second-year C.B. Aycock head coach Brad Matthews. "Triton is not a team that we are taking lightly no matter how the two regular-season games turned out."

Aycock swept the regular-season series against the Cape Fear Conference champions, who have an abundance of underclassmen in the starting lineup. Matthews' team managed to solve right-hander Candace Faircloth, who has an arsenal of pitches -- including a change-up and rise ball.

Faircloth (21-4) has logged a 0.52 earned run average (ERA) this season and has all four playoff wins, which are all one-run decisions. She needs just two strikeouts to reach the 300 mark for the season.

"Faircloth has proven that she can be the deciding factor in any game," said Matthews. "We need to have a good approach at the plate and score when we get people on base."

One advantage of two regular-season matchups is knowing exactly what to expect in the batter's box. Golden Falcon designated hitter Autumn Pittman hopes she and her teammates will be ready for the Hawks' biggest weapon.

"She is going to work both sides of the plate, but she likes to pitch inside," said Pittman. "We have to go up to the plate ready to hit and hopefully put some hits together."

Aside from being the Hawks' stopper in the pitcher's circle, Faircloth is also the teams leading offensive force who carries a .431 batting average into tonight's showdown. Aside from Candice, the Golden Falcons pitchers will have to deal with Andie Faircloth, Kendall Tart and Kerri Roberts. All three batters have each tallied multiple hits over the teams last two playoff victories.

"Triton has a lot of weapons, and I fully expect that it will be a close game," said Matthews. "It would not surprise me to see it come down to one run ... one hit. We just want to be in the position late in the game where we can make the play that wins the game."

First pitch is 5 p.m.