06/02/13 — All-Area softball: Burroughs picked as player-of-the-year

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All-Area softball: Burroughs picked as player-of-the-year

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on June 2, 2013 1:53 AM

Meredith Burroughs entered this season with a giant target on her back.

The junior owned the team lead in 10 offensive categories last season as Charles B. Aycock captured the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A softball title.

The Golden Falcons lost five starters from that squad, including Brooke Bell.

Burroughs was asked to move from first base into the pitcher's circle this season and provide leadership for a team loaded with underclassmen. She helped the Golden Falcons earn a share of the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference regular-season title and reach the second round of the state playoffs.

There's no question Burroughs is the 2013 News-Argus All-Area Softball Player-of-the-Year.

After matching the state record for home runs in a season (19) in 2012, Burroughs was the focal point of Aycock's opponents this year. Despite seeing few pitches to hit, she still led the Golden Falcons with a .556 batting average.

Burroughs walked 30 times and struck out just once in 41 at-bats.

"Meredith is a very good hitter and she's put a lot of work into that," Golden Falcons' head coach Laura Romo said. "It's nice to creep up on teams when you're a freshman or a sophomore. When you have to play under the spotlight and still perform there's a lot to that.

"That's a lot of pressure and she handled it very well."

Her patience at the plate was rewarded in a matchup of defending state champions with Wilson Beddingfield in mid-April. After walking three times earlier in the game, Burroughs belted a walk-off, solo home run in the bottom of the ninth inning as Aycock defeated the reigning 2-A state champs 1-0.

"I just tried to stay focused and disciplined at the plate," Burroughs said. "I knew that I wasn't going to see a lot to hit this season. I tried not to get frustrated with walking because I wanted to do anything I could to help my team win."

Burroughs began working in early December with assistant coach Emily Jordan to prepare for replacing Bell inside the pitcher's circle. Bell went 22-3 last season with 13 complete games and seven shutouts.

The extra work with Jordan paid off for Burroughs, who earned nine of the Golden Falcons' 14 wins inside the pitcher's circle. She recorded 77 strikeouts in 95 innings of work and held opponents to a .225 batting average.

"I think Meredith understood that she was going to end up having to pitch," Romo said. "A leader is someone who is willing to sacrifice things that come easy to them and step into a role that their team needs. When the major responsibility is on your shoulders and there is nobody else to look to, that's a whole different ballgame and I think Meredith stepped up to that challenge."