03/15/13 — Eagles, Golden Falcons split DH on softball diamond

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Eagles, Golden Falcons split DH on softball diamond

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 15, 2013 1:47 PM

County rivals expected to contend for their respective regular-season conference championships learned a few things about themselves on the softball diamond Thursday evening.

Rosewood can play with elite teams.

Charles B. Aycock might have found its identity.

Alicia Burns' two-out, walk-off single capped the Eagles' come-from-behind, 5-4 victory over the reigning state 3-A softball champions in game one. Keely Fulgham swatted a first-inning home run and finished with two hits for the youth-ladened Golden Falcons, who claimed the nightcap 6-2 on Thursday evening.

"This is why we scheduled them," second-year RHS head coach Shay Campbell said. "We knew they lost a lot of players from last year, but they're still a good team. Playing teams like them, South Central and Wilson Fike ... teams that are stronger than what we see in conference play is going to help us toward the end of the season."

Aycock (4-2 overall) graduated five starters off last year's squad that posted a school-record 31 victories. Four starters are back, and were joined on the field by several freshmen during the non-conference doubleheader.

"We had a different approach to this game for various reasons because we had things we wanted to look at," first-year CBA head coach Laura Romo said. "We played about as well defensively as they played defensively. We just hit the ball a little better than they did (in game two)."

The Golden Falcons led 2-1 in the opener until the Eagles put together a two-out rally in the bottom of the fourth inning. Jordan DuBose drew her third walk of the game and moved into scoring position on Scout Anderson's single to left field.

Winning pitcher Amanda Beckert followed with a two-RBI single that sailed over the right fielder's head. Krystal Yelverton, Beckert's courtesy runner, was thrown out trying to steal second base four pitches later.

Katie Gay started Aycock's fifth inning with a single up the middle. The junior advanced to second base on Meredith Burroughs' one-out base knock to right field.

Both runners trotted home on Fulgham's hit between third base and shortstop. Reagan Herndon followed with her second single of the game, but neither scored. Beckert recorded a strikeout and induced an inning-ending groundout to avoid further damage.

"Part of being a young team," Romo said of the late-game surge. "That's why we tend to hit better in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. We've had a chance to see (the pitcher). (But) we don't come out (strong) from the get-go and let teams hang around."

Callie Thornton ignited Rosewood's fifth inning with a one-out single up the middle. One out later, Haley Mercer singled and both runners scored on Burns' first-pitch base knock off losing pitcher Cierra Harris.

It was Harris' first start since the season opener against North Johnston.

"I really like the way we battled," Campbell said. "That's the first team that's really gotten a lead on us, so we had to work from behind and I thought we did a really good job of that."

Rosewood (4-1) never got started offensively in game two.

Aycock left-hander Allie Phillips, in her first varsity start, retired the first seven batters she faced in game two. She struck out two, and coaxed the Eagles into four ground-ball outs and a flyout to center field.

Burns reached on an error to become Rosewood's first runner of the game. The senior first baseman scored on Kaitlin Pipkin's base knock to close the gap to 3-1 through three innings.

"I think Allie did really well," said CBA assistant coach Emily Jordan. "She kept the ball low, hit her spots well (and) she had good composure on the mound. That error happened and she handled it better than she would have in the past."

Burroughs provided three innings of three-strikeout relief.

Fulgham's home run, her third of the season, helped Aycock grab a 3-0 lead after one inning. Fulgham added an RBI double in the second inning. Herndon, who batted 3-for-3 on the night, supplied RBI singles in the second and fourth innings.

"Keely is going to get it, she isn't scared to hit the ball wherever you throw it," a smiling Jordan said. "She has the perfect hitter's mentality. She's up there to hit ... very selfless."