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One archrival displayed the qualities of a well-oiled machine as they await an assignment in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A playoffs. The other put forth the body language of a team just waiting for the season to come to an end.
Wednesday’s resumption of a suspended game from April 8 between Hunt and Fike, where Fike returned to the plate holding a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, quickly turned into a clinic from the Lady Golden Demons.
Already having clinched the second and final automatic qualifying spot from the 3-A Big East Conference with its 10-6 win over Franklinton the night before, Fike added to its largesse following the resumption of play, then used the combination of its bats and sloppy defensive play from the Lady Warriors to coast to a 20-0 runaway in five innings.
The one-sided outcome left Fike at 11-7 overall and in sole possession of the second place in the Big East with an 8-2 conference record. Hunt, which had an opportunity to slide into third place by its lonesome with a win, inside slipped to 9-9 overall and 5-5 in the Big East. A nonconference game at Greenville Rose on Friday is the last contest on the docket for Hunt barring a wild-card bid into the postseason.
But there will be no such consternation on seeding day for the Lady Demons, who used a two-run error in the bottom of the first inning off the bat of junior Hailey Hammonds to make it 5-0. Prior to the rain stoppage on April 8, senior LeAnn Pittman blasted a three-run homer to left field to send Fike into Wednesday with a cushion.
Certainly, Fike did nothing to endanger that margin. The Lady Demons batted around in each of the first three innings, pushing across seven runs in the second and eight more in the third. By the latter stages of the third inning, Fike was engaged in station-to-station softball at the behest of head coach Josh Jenkins, and with the bases loaded, Fike stepped off the basepaths to record the third and final out of the bottom of the third.
“I know Hunt’s got some really good ballplayers,” Jenkins said. “Right there in the first inning, they were put in a bad predicament coming out already down 3-0, and our girls started hitting the ball with two outs. I think we added on a couple of runs, and that was big. But playing station to station, that’s big for a team. It’s exciting, but I definitely would not have thought it.”
Indeed, Fike forced the issue and took as much as it was given, with the Lady Demons finishing with 17 hits.
Meanwhile, Hunt was guilty of five errors, hit three batters and handed out seven walks. The only hit off Fike’s Pittman over the two-night span came in the fourth, with senior Allyson Matthews poking a single into right field. But past that, Fike put together a strong pitching performance to go along with its already potent offense, as Pittman struck out eight and walked one.
“Fike just wanted it better than we did,” Hunt head coach Miguel Hall said. “We’ve got some internal problems going on, but still, we shouldn’t get beat 20-0. I’ll always believe that, but we’ve just got to keep plugging. We’ve got a game on Friday with J.H. Rose, and then the playoffs if we make it.”
Six players had multiple hits for Fike, with sophomore Caitlyn Graziani, junior Lydia Hunt and senior Taylor Little all going 3 for 4. Graziani and Hunt each drove in two runs. Graziani’s two-run double came in the third.
Score by innings:
Hunt 000 00 — 0
Fike 578 0x — 20
WP-LeAnn Pittman 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO. LP-Brittany Glover.
LEADING HITTERS — Fike: Caitlyn Graziani 3-4, 2B, 2 RBI, Lydia Hunt 3-4, 2 RBI, Taylor Little 3-4, RBI, E.J. Secrest 2-3, 2B, 3 RBI, Lindsey Curlings 2-4, 3B; Jada Lamm 2-4, 2 RBI; Hunt: Allyson Matthews 1-2.