05/21/11 — C.B. Aycock falls one run short

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C.B. Aycock falls one run short

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 21, 2011 10:57 PM

WILSON -- Charles B. Aycock head softball coach Brad Matthews doesn't regret his seventh-inning gamble Friday evening.

Given a second chance, he'd do it again.

Cierra Harris, the Golden Falcons' fastest player on the team, represented the game-tying run at third base. Lead-off batter Brooke Bell lofted a fly ball to center field and Hunt's Natalie Crocker caught it on the run.

"I knew it would take a perfect throw," said Matthews.

It did.

Hunt catcher Amber Parrish caught the throw, blocked the plate and tagged a sliding Harris near the chest. Parrish showed the ball to the umpire, who emphatically called Harris out and the Warriors' celebrated their 3-2, second-round triumph in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A softball playoffs.

Matthews charged the umpire, and argued his case as Hunt fans booed him from behind the fence.

"I still think she's in there (safe)," said Matthews. "I think she got under the tag, but that's his opinion and my opinion. That's just a bad way to lose right there.

"I think Hunt wanted it a little bit more than we did and they were up the whole time."

The Warriors (21-3 overall) continue play Tuesday evening at perennial power D.H. Conley, which has yet to yield a run in the postseason. The Golden Falcons, co-champions of the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference, concluded the year 21-6 overall.

Matthews felt fortunate that Aycock had a chance in its final at-bat. Despite struggling inside the circle most of the evening, right-hander Brooke Bell forced Hunt to strand 11 runners. The Warriors left the bases loaded in each of the third and fifth innings.

"They had plenty of chances to bust it open," said Matthews. "But Brooke got a couple of key strikeouts and we made some good defensive plays behind her."

Errors aided each team's cause in the first inning.

Bell reached when Hunt first baseman Lauren Brinson dropped a routine pop-up behind first base. Meredith Burroughs (2-for-3) moved Bell into scoring position with a single up the middle, and Bell scored on Reagan Herndon's sacrifice fly to left field.

The Warriors answered.

Slap hitter Taylor Barbee reached base when Aycock's infield dropped a routine pop fly up the middle. Bell issued a free pass to Crystal Fulghum, and Barbee scampered home for the 1-1 tie on Parrish's base knock to left field.

Bell (18-5) induced a double-play fly ball to Harris in left field that scored Fulghum, and fanned Crocker to end the inning.

"I thought we should have busted it open from the start, and we don't get but one run out of it," said Matthews. "We dropped a fly ball ... made a couple of errors and it came back to haunt us that first inning."

Aycock tied the game at 2-2 on Rachel Jordan's two-out single in the third. Hunt grabbed the lead again in the fourth when Jenna Davis doubled, and scored on back-to-back sacrifice plays from Tiffany Parrish and Courtney Davis.

Two scoreless innings later, Harris started the Golden Falcons' final rally with a sharply-hit single to left. Barbee misplayed the ball and Harris wound up at third base. Two pitches later, Bell flew out to Crocker and Hunt completed its controversial -- and gut-wrenching -- win.

"I know Meredith is on deck, but still ..." said Matthews, his voice fading and tears welling up in his eyes. "I don't think they would've pitched to her anyway. Then you've got two outs and a sacrifice fly is not going to help you.

"If I had to do it again, I'd send her 100 more times."