05/26/12 — Aycock erases 2011 memory, advances to state championship series in softball

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Aycock erases 2011 memory, advances to state championship series in softball

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on May 26, 2012 11:04 PM

ELON -- The memory of a second-round playoff loss to Wilson Hunt last season has driven Charles B. Aycock's five seniors all season long.

The Golden Falcons took a giant step toward erasing those demons with a series-clinching 5-4 win over Western Alamance in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A eastern regional softball championships.

Aycock claimed it 26th consecutive win and will face western regional champion Fred T. Foard (25-4 overall) at Walnut Creek next weekend. The best-of-three state title series begins Friday.

"We didn't want to go back to Aycock," Golden Falcons' head coach Brad Matthews said. "We wanted to finish it right here. We've always talked about Walnut Creek. We've got a state championship type of team. We've just got to play like it.

"It was a total team effort. I couldn't be more proud of my girls."

Aycock starting pitcher Brooke Bell led off the top of the first inning with a walk. Bell scored on Meredith Burroughs' RBI single to put Aycock in front 1-0.

The Warriors used a pair of two-out RBI doubles and an RBI single in the bottom of the first to take a 3-1 lead. The three-run outburst snapped the Golden Falcons' streak of 54 consecutive scoreless innings.

The Golden Falcons (29-2) got a run back on Rachel Jordan's RBI double in the top of the second inning. Bell grounded out to end the inning with Jordan on third base as the potential tying run.

Jordan (two RBI) and Connor Davis both finished with two hits.

Jordan's RBI double and Katie Gay's two-run home run to left field gave Aycock a 5-3 lead in the top of the fourth inning.

"I knew the first ball that was coming I had to get a hit and I just took what they gave me" Gay said. "I just knew if they would throw me one pitch as I saw it and I was like 'this is it.' I didn't know where it was going, I just knew I hit it hard."

Western Alamance (25-5) put the tying runs on first and second base with two outs in the home half of the fifth inning. Bell struck out Tyler Miles to get out of trouble.

Jessica Griffin's RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning cut the deficit to 5-4. The Warriors (25-5) had runners on second and third base with two outs, but Bell got Kelsey Akers to ground out to end the threat.

Bell (20-2) pitched a complete game. She allowed four earned runs on nine hits, struck out seven and walked four in a 134-pitch outing.

"That's 21 innings of a lot of pitching," Bell said. "I don't know what I would do without my teammates. It wasn't just me, it's the whole team. I tried to keep my composure. They hit the ball hard. All I had to do was keep my composure. That's the main thing."

Western Alamance threatened in the bottom of the seventh inning with runners on first and second base and two outs. Kelsey Rice flew out to Gay in right field to end the ballgame.

"When the ball was first hit to me I had to pull myself together really fast," Gay said. "That out could have meant another run scored or it was the end of the game for us. When I backed up and saw it, I knew I had it. It was amazing."