Princeton vs. Murphy-Pamlico
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on June 5, 2011 1:51 AM
Princeton 5, Murphy 4, 9 innings
RALEIGH -- Ashleigh Mayes scampered home on a fielding error and Princeton turned back Murphy, 5-4, in nine innings during elimination-round play Friday evening.
It was Princeton's first-ever final four victory.
"I can't take many more of these," said Bulldogs head coach Terry Braswell, who blew out a big breath.
Princeton (22-6 overall) built a 4-0 lead through six innings.
Nicole Melvin trotted home on a second-inning passed ball to make it 1-0. Mayes (2-for-4, two RBI) pounded out a run-scoring double in the fourth, and the Dogs added two sixth-inning runs on an interference call at the plate and Mayes' RBI groundout to shortstop.
Freshman right-hander Savanna Massengill escaped trouble in the third, fourth and fifth innings. Princeton survived five defensive errors during that stretch, but nearly succumbed to a costly, seventh-inning miscue.
Murphy (25-4) juiced the bases on two errors and Amy Trull's pinch-hit single. Starting pitcher Brittany Henry slapped a base hit into right-center field that the Bulldogs' defender misplayed.
The ball squirted under her glove and rolled to the temporary fence. The error cleared the bases and set off a wild celebration in the Murphy dugout.
"I don't know if the ball had a funny spin, or we just didn't play it clean," said Braswell of his team's defensive troubles. "That one error cost us big time. We've had those games where one error will kill us."
Massengill gave up another base hit and the Princeton coaching staff called upon right-hander Traci Bridgers to shut down Murphy's sudden offensive surge. The senior logged a strikeout and got a pair of groundouts to end the inning.
Princeton put a runner aboard in the seventh, but couldn't score.
Bridgers (19-5) retired Murphy in order in the eighth and the Dogs went 1-2-3 in their next at-bat. Bridgers fanned all three Murphy batters in the ninth, giving her six strikeouts in her relief appearance.
Mayes started Princeton's game-winning rally with a sharply-hit single up the middle. Muphy reliever Jordan Lovingood induced an infield pop-up and Mayes advanced to third on Megan Gerrell's sacrifice bunt.
Katlyn Peedin worked Lovingood to a 3-1 count and chopped a grounder toward third base. Lovingood got a glove on it, tried to barehand the ball and throw to first. But she lost her grip and Peedin safely crossed first base, while Mayes touched home for the winning run and got mobbed by her teammates.
"I was looking for Katlyn to get a good, solid base hit," said Braswell. "But we'll take that little squibbler and go on."
Pamlico 2, Princeton 1
RALEIGH -- Princeton showed its patience too late.
The Bulldogs collected a sixth-inning run, but Pamlico held on for a 2-1 victory in the eastern regional championship game of the 2011 N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A final four at Walnut Creek on Friday.
It was the Hurricanes' first regional title since 1998, and second overall in the program's fast-pitch history.
Princeton practiced all week against a fast setting on the pitching machine, and showed impatience at the plate against the Hurricanes' slow-throwing right-hander Katie Lachman.
Lachman permitted two hits in each of the first and third innings, but kept the Dogs off the scoreboard. She retired eight consecutive batters until Katlyn Peedin stroked a lead-off triple that bounced into the right-field corner.
"We just didn't hit the ball (sharp), and I thought she (Lachman) was actually faster than she pitches and it hurt us," said Princeton head coach Terry Braswell. "We didn't slow down to wait on it. After we settled down from the first inning, we played some good ball."
The first inning proved crucial.
Leigh Ward cranked out a lead-off double to left field. Three batters later, Ward scored when the Bulldogs misplayed a fielder's choice grounder. Lachman followed with an RBI single up the middle, and protected the two-run lead the rest of the game.
Princeton right-hander Traci Bridgers allowed six base runners the remainder of the game, and finished with a complete-game, five-hitter inside the circle. She struck out three and walked one.
The Bulldogs avoided the shutout in the sixth.
Peedin tripled and trotted home on Savanna Massengill's one-out, RBI double into left-center field. Lachman retired the next two batters to avoid further damage.
Ashleigh Mayes and Megan Gerrell reached base in the seventh on base hits. Both runners were left stranded when Lachman induced a game-ending groundout to second base.
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