05/13/10 — South Johnston drops C.B. Aycock

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South Johnston drops C.B. Aycock

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 13, 2010 1:46 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Cara Frederick slapped the ball in the gap.

What happened next turned into an ESPN highlight.

With the bases loaded and two outs, South Johnston right fielder Mariah Barefoot got an out-stretched glove on Frederick's line-drive hit. The ball rolled down Barefoot's arm, hit off her leg and she managed to catch it bare-handed.

Charles B. Aycock head coach Brad Matthews waved the players around, then covered his head in disbelief.

"When it left the bat, I thought it was in the gap," said Matthews. "But that girl ran it down. I saw it come out of her glove and knew she was going to drop it, then she caught it with her other hand. It was an unbelievable catch."

And heart-breaking, too.

Barefoot's highlight-reel play preserved the Trojans' 5-4 in semifinal-round action of the 2010 Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference women's softball tournament. South Johnston (17-8 overall) opposes regular-season championship Triton in the title game Friday evening.

C.B. Aycock (13-9) failed to reach the ECC final for the second consecutive year after capturing the first three tournament crowns from 2006-2008.

Trailing 5-3 heading into their final at-bat, the Golden Falcons got a lead-off single from pinch-hitter Reagan Herndon. Herndon stayed at first after Brooke Bell flied out to deep center field.

Connor Davis reached with an infield single and Sarah Beth Marquis drew a walk to load the bases. Autumn Pittman plated Herndon with an RBI groundout, which trimmed the deficit to 5-4.

The Trojans intentionally walked Rachel Jordan, which set the stage for Frederick. The senior shortstop took the first offering from South Johnston right-hander Kaitlyn Barbour for a ride, but Barefoot derailed Aycock's finally rally.

"Running catch, backhand, bobble and she still caught it," said South Johnston coach Mickey Bridgers of Barefoot's grab. "Probably the most-outstanding catch of the season for us and a very meaningful catch. I'm just real happy for a senior who probably doesn't play as much as she deserves to play."

South Johnston became the first-ever ECC team to sweep Aycock in the regular-season series, and then beat the perennial powerhouse in the conference tournament. The Golden Falcons endured their third straight defeat, and have dropped four of their last six outings overall.

Pittman held the Trojans scoreless through five innings, including tagging out a runner at home who attempted to score on a wild pitch. The senior right-hander was victimized by a costly error when Aycock tried to turn a double play.

The Trojans manufactured three runs (two earned) on three hits before Bell relieved Pittman, who received the no-decision. Bell suffered the hard-luck loss in relief.

The Golden Falcons, down 3-1, tied the game in the sixth.

Marquis cranked out a lead-off double and moved into scoring position on Pittman's groundout. Jordan plated Marquis with a sacrifice fly to left field. Frederick laced a two-out double to left center field and scored on Ivy Hartzell's base knock, which tied the game at 3-3.

"I was proud of my girls," said Matthews. "They played hard to the final out. We got after it (tonight). I'm proud of the girls' effort and that's a positive because I've seen something out of them that I haven't seen for a while."