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Falcons ride defense into fourth round

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South Central's Madison Deanes (4) makes a one-handed catch during a playoff game against Harnett Central in 2016. (The Daily Reflector)

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Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

After first-round bye and a tight 6-5 win over Lumberton to open the 4-A state playoffs, South Central softball and ace pitcher Isabel Moore relied on a Falcons defense that gave up only 64 runs during a 20-1 regular season to advance to the fourth round on Tuesday night.

Second seed SC crawled out of an early two-run hole to take the lead and then held on for a 7-5 triumph over No. 10 Wake Forest. The Falcons advance to the fourth round, hosting third-seeded Heritage on Saturday at home.

The Falcons (22-1) survived an up-and-down night at the plate, but Madison Deanes (1-4, run, two RBIs, three walks), Cam Davis (2-4, home run, two Rs, RBI, two BBs) and Amaya Evans (2-4, two RBIs) managed to swing the Falcons back into the game, and into the lead, in the third and never look back. Evans’ two-run single in the fifth made all the difference.

After another complete game, Moore continued to impress on the mound in her first season. Knowing that she has a solid defense behind her allows Moore to relax in the circle and concentrate on hitting her marks, a trait she has displayed to a tee thus far in the playoffs.

“I’ve got confidence in our girls, even though tonight we struggled at the plate. I know we can put some hits together,” South Central coach Cotton Nicholson said post game.

Nicholson said he is confident in Moore despite some early struggles. Davis’ home run was a key play and a momentum shifter, one in which coaches and teammates saw as an inspiring moment.

“She can really lift the team. She can really lift the ball too,” Nicholson said.

Amber Saunders’ two-run homer allowed the visiting Cougars to take an easy 2-0 lead in the first.

Jessica Purcell’s grounder in the third scored a run to cut the Cougar lead to 2-1. A dropped ball allowed Hannah Bailey to score for a 2-2 game, and a Deanes double brought in two more to make it 4-2 SC.

Davis led off the Falcons’ half of the fourth with a bang, as she hit a homer over the fence in left-center field on a 1-2 count to increase the Falcon lead to 5-2.

An error by Davis became costly in the top of the fifth, as it allowed Cougars runners to advance to second and third on what would typically be a routine play, and the Cougars ultimately cashed in a pair of runs for a 5-4 game.

Deanes earned a walk in the fifth, and Davis got a free base on an intentional walk, and both came home on Evans’ hit to make it 7-5.

Davis feels that her team has “a little spark” that can drive them deeper into the playoffs. The team captain made her voice heard in the game, as she called her own timeout to calm Moore during a rough stretch, a call few coaches allow their players.

“I just tell them to calm down, we’re fine,” she said. “Sometimes we just think too much and begin to make little errors like we did, but we cleaned things up and we were able to come back.”

D.H. Conley 9, C.B. Aycock 7

No. 19 seed Conley kept defying the odds on Tuesday night, taking out No. 6 seed C.B. Aycock for their third straight road win against a higher seed these playoffs.

Already, the Vikings (17-8) eliminated No. 3 Cape Fear and No. 14 West Johnston.

Up next for DHC is a Friday showdown with the winner between No. 2 Western Alamance and No. 10 Harnett Central.

Parrott Academy 3, Harrells 2

Elizabeth Norris singled home Collins Moore with the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning to send the Parrott softball team into the final four of the NCISAA 2A state tournament in a walk-off win over Harrells Christian Academy.

It marks the second trip to the final four in three years  for the Patriots (9-8), with a chance to collect their first state title since 2015.

Norris came home on a wild pitch in the fifth to tie the game at 1-1, and Parrott added another run on an RBI grounder by Mary Pat Ferebee to take the lead. An error helped give rise to Harrells’ game-tying run in the top of the seventh.

Parrott’s Moore led off the inning with the triple, however, before Norris roped a single to left. The Patriots take on the Fayetteville Christian/Village Christian winner on Friday morning.

SOCCER

D.H. Conley 1, Terry Sanford 0

Another Conley team defied the odds when the Vikings soccer team knocked off third-seeded Terry Sanford on the road, pushing the Vikings into the fourth round.

No. 6 DHC (15-4-4) extended its playoffs-long shutout streak to 7-0 through three games in the victory.

Now, the Vikes advance to take on the winner between No. 2 Chapel Hill and No. 22 Northern in the round of eight scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday.

GOLF

Parrott in third place

The Parrott Academy golf team was in third place following the first day of the NCISAA 2A state championship at the Country Club of Whispering Pines. The Patriots shot a team score of 329, led by Jackson Crocker with a 78.

Griffin Steelman shot 81, Colby Tant 83, Holden Killinger 87, Matthew Richardson 88 and Hayes Mahoney 95. O'Neal School (295 points) led the team standings ahead of St. David's School (299).

TENNIS

Parrott Academy 5, Cape Fear Academy 0

The Parrott Academy boys tennis team advanced to the NCISAA 2A state championship match with a 5-0 victory over Cape Fear Academy on Monday.

It was the Patriots seventh consecutive win over the Hurricanes, and Parrott now will face Carmel Christian in the 2-A state title match, a rematch of the 2017 contest won by Carmel 5-2.

Cameron Pope, William Hill, Zach Sylvia and Winfield Warren won singles matches for Parrott before sweeping the doubles round.

MIDDLE SCHOOLS

Hope softball wins title

Hope Middle School defeated P.S. Jones in the Pitt County Middle School Athletic Conference championship game, 4-3 in 7 innings, to finish the season 13-1.

Trinity Nichols hit a home run and a double, while Nyla Rodgers had a pair of doubles and an RBI and Sarah Ange doubled and drove in a run to preserve the pitching victory for Emma Adams 1-3.

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