NCHSAA 3-A softball final 4: Aycock falls in elimination round to T.C. Roberson
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on June 7, 2009 2:01 AM
RALEIGH -- The trend finally ended.
There was no triumph after defeat this time.
Four defensive miscues proved costly in Charles B. Aycock's season-ending, 9-7 loss to T.C. Roberson during elimination-round play in the 2009 N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A softball final four on Saturday afternoon.
Errant throws and bobbled ground balls led to five unearned runs as the No. 5-ranked Golden Falcons suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time this season.
"They had some big hits with runners in scoring position," said Aycock head coach Brad Matthews. "We made some bad plays ... bad decisions by not getting to the base. When you get this far, you can't make any mistakes."
C.B. Aycock, for the first time this season, failed to emerge victorious after suffering a loss. Matthews' team reeled off 17 straight wins after an early-season setback against then No. 1-ranked D.H. Conley in March.
The Golden Falcons endured their next defeat against archrival Southern Wayne in the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference tournament semifinals in early May. Again, Matthews' squad bounced back with five consecutive wins and earned the program's first eastern regional championship since 2005.
"My girls played hard ... didn't quit, and I was proud of them for that," said Matthews. "My girls have a lot of fight in them and we've been behind before, and I knew we could come back.
"My girls knew they could come back."
But the Golden Falcons surrendered a playoff-high nine runs to T.C. Roberson. Hurlers Autumn Pittman, Cynthia Burroughs and Brooke Bell combined to give up 14 hits in the seven-inning affair.
The Rams grabbed a 4-0 lead after two innings and expanded it to 7-2 after 41/2 innings of play. The Golden Falcons manufactured two fifth-inning runs on RBI hits from Brooke Bell (3-for-4, four RBI) and Torie Benton.
T.C. Roberson scored twice in the sixth, only to see Aycock answer. Bell delivered a two-RBI single and the Rams committed a run-scoring error for the 9-7 finale.
"I think both teams battled," said Roberson coach Laura Beatty. "That says alot about the quality team(s) that we both have. We were here to win a ball game and both teams did the best they could to accomplish that."
Aycock (26-4 overall) started the weekend with a 4-1 conquest future ECC opponent Erwin Triton. Burroughs permitted three hits and logged 11 strikeouts in a complete-game effort in the pitcher's circle.
It was the Golden Falcons' third decision over the Hawks this season.
Before Burroughs took the mound, she received a call from her dad reminding her of the Southern Wayne loss and saying "three times was the charm."
Burroughs got a little steamed.
"That made me mad, so I had to focus and not let that happen," said Burroughs. "I was very nervous before the game, but very confident once we got the first run in the first inning. (Getting that run) was huge and took the stress away."
Burroughs accounted for the first-inning run with a sacrifice fly. Aycock added three unearned runs in the middle innings on four Triton errors. Bell provided three hits as the Golden Falcons secured their fourth eastern championship in seven tries since 2000.
Triton broke up Burroughs' no-hit and shutout bid in the fourth inning, but the right-hander settled down. An all-state performer last season on the independent schools level, Burroughs retired 10 of the final 12 batters she faced to notch the win and set up a showdown with Southwestern Randolph.
The Cougars, the 2008 state runners-up, knocked the Golden Falcons into the elimination bracket with a 4-1 victory late Friday evening. Right-hander Anna Maness allowed one unearned run on six hits in a complete-game performance.
Kelsey Hoover supplied the big blow. The sophomore infielder swatted a two-run homer that chased Burroughs from the mound and gave SW Randolph a 3-0 lead in the sixth inning.
Meanwhile, Aycock squandered run-scoring opportunities in the third and fourth innings. Cara Frederick was thrown out at the plate attempting to score on Benton's two-out single up the middle in the third. The Golden Falcons' courtesy runner got hung up between first and second to end a scoring threat in the fourth.
"We can't change that (third) inning," said Matthews. "We didn't play very smart at all and I think we are better than that team. If we could have scored, we could have gotten the momentum going."
The Golden Falcons finished 1-2 in the four-team, double-elimination event. Saturday's loss marked the final outings for Burroughs and fellow seniors Shamyka Polite, Amber Baker, Anna Sullivan and Randi Tucker. Matthews is expected to return nine players next spring and will welcome 10 rising freshmen from Norwayne Middle School into the program.
"I'm losing some good girls, but also have a good crop coming back, so I'm looking forward to next year," said Matthews. "I saw some bright spots (from the underclassmen). We'll be back."
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