06/03/11 — Princeton faces Pamlico

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Princeton faces Pamlico

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on June 3, 2011 1:47 PM

Don't be satisfied is the message Terry Braswell has passed along daily to his Princeton softball team, which has spent the week practicing and preparing for its first-ever appearance in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A final four.

The Bulldogs (21-5 overall) face Coastal Plains champion Pamlico County (24-4) for the eastern regional championship today at Walnut Creek in Raleigh. First pitch is 6 p.m.

The winner meets either three-time defending state champion East Surry (25-4) or perennial Smoky Mountain power Murphy (25-2) in the second game. The four-team, double-elimination concludes Saturday.

Princeton secured its final four trip with a 2-1 victory over South Creek. Right-hander Traci Bridgers, the team's lone senior, earned a complete-game win inside the pitcher's circle.

Bridgers has fashioned a 1.84 earned run average (ERA) and is 18-4 overall. She's shared the pitching duties with Savanna Massengill, who emerged the winning hurler in an extra-inning victory over Southside in third-round play.

"Traci has done an excellent job inside the circle and leading the team," said Braswell. "Teams have hit against her, but the defense has played well behind her. If we get a little lead, she seems to settle down a little better, hits her spots and her pitches become more smooth."

Princeton has recorded 11 shutouts this season.

Kara Cayton is Pamlico's top hitter at a .513 clip. She's cranked out four home runs and collected 32 RBI for the Hurricanes, who have outscored opponents 274-51 this season.

Katie Lachman leads the team inside the circle with a 0.80 ERA and 18-4 worksheet. The Hurricanes are in the final four for the first time since 1998 when they won the 1-A east crown.

"They've got a decent pitcher and they're pretty good defensively," said Braswell. "I'm not sure about their bats, but I'm sure it will be a good matchup for us. We have to keep our defense up and hopefully the bats will come alive."

Beth Isaacs, the Northwest Conference player-of-the-year, leads East Surry back to Walnut Creek. She's 17-2 with a 0.81 ERA on the rubber, and has recorded 197 strikeouts in 130 innings of work.

The Cardinals are batting .375 as a team.

Murphy has scored 10-plus runs on 18 occasions this season, and has outscored the opposition 39-0 in the playoffs. Brittany Henry is batting a phenomenal .613, and is the team's top hurler with a microscopic 0.50 ERA and 219 strikeouts.

Princeton has permitted just two runs in the postseason.

"They haven't shown too many nerves yet and they've had some good practices," said Braswell. "The thing that pleases me about this team is they don't quit, they keep digging when we get behind. I've told them not to be satisfied with going to the 'Creek.'

"I said let's try to do some more damage."