Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
An early game pitching change produced a mind-blowing turnaround in host Fike High’s 16-7 rout of Charles B. Aycock in the opening round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A softball playoffs on a gorgeous Tuesday evening on the Fike diamond.
The Lady Golden Falcons, seeded No. 18 among the 32 East Region entrants, exploded for five runs in the top of the first inning.
No. 15 Fike failed to score in the bottom of the first and, when the Lady Golden Demons returned to the field in the top of the second, freshman right-hander Jada Lamm assumed duties in the circle in relief of starter and senior right-hander Leann Pittman.
While Lamm was shutting out CBA the next four innings, Fike, the No. 2 representative from the Big East Conference, erupted for 14 unanswered runs and proceeded into the second round and a trip to No. 2 Eastern Alamance (defeated No. 31 White Oak, 10-1) later in the week.
Losers twice to CBA during the regular season, Fike climbed to 12-7. The Lady Falcons, the No. 2 3-A representative from the 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference, exited with a 13-10 mark.
Fike head coach Josh Jenkins and Lamm both noted CBA hitters went against Pittman in both regular-season meetings, with Jenkins adding: “They’re a hitting ball team. We’ve played them twice and they adjusted to her (Pittman) really well.
“Jada did a heckuva job. She was hitting her spots and stayed ahead in the count. She got a little tired in the sixth (allowed two runs).”
Said CBA head coach LaVon Matthews: “Pitching probably had a little bit to do with it. Once (Lamm) got the ball over the plate, we just didn’t hit the ball.”
Lamm, in five innings, allowed four hits, two runs (one earned) and four walking while striking out a pair in notching her second win against four losses, Lamm reasoned she was effective because she throws with less velocity than Pittman.
“I was a little bit scared — I’m not going to lie,” Lamm said. “I had to get through it and do my job. l think it was the change of speeds. Different pitches go different ways and have different spin.”
After CBA’s first-inning outburst, Fike shelled starting — and losing — CBA pitcher Marie Kidd, a junior, for 17 hits and 11 earned runs in five innings.
Junior right fielder E.J. Secrest led the Fike assault, batting 4 for 4 with a double, driving in four runs and scoring a pair. Sophomore shortstop Lindsey Curlings, Pittman, senior left fielder Taylor Little and junior third baseman Hailey Hammonds each rapped two hits. Hammonds tripled and drove in three runs. Pittman tripled and Curlings drove in three runs.
Lamm enjoyed a dazzling evening. In addition to her pitching, Lamm batted 4 for 5, scored three runs and drove in a pair.
“I was shocked!” she exclaimed. “Most of the time, if I am pitching, I hit bad. And if I am hitting good, I pitch badly, I kind of did good a little bit with both tonight.”
Down 5-0, Fike got three runs back in the second — when Little, Secrest, Hammonds and Curlings singled in succession on make-or-break plays CBA’s defense couldn’t execute.
The six-run third that put Fike in front for keeps at 9-5 featured Secrest’s double, Hammonds’ triple and freshman center fielder Lydia Hunt’s sacrifice fly. Secrest poked an RBI single in the fourth. Pittman tripled in the five-run fifth and sophomore second baseman Caitlyn Graziani singled. Lamm’s single was the only hit in the two-run sixth against CBA reliever Makayla Williams.
“I expected us to hit,” Jenkins reviewed. “Hitting is contagious and our girls like to pile it on. The big thing was that we didn’t get down that 5-0 first inning. CBA has a great program and this is a big win for us.”
Added Lamm: “That’s a good team, but we played on our home field this time. We got ourselves together and played as a team — like we should be doing every game. We just really wanted to make it to round 2.”
CBA’s first-inning spree featured the first of sophomore shortstop Abbey Thomas’ two doubles and singles by freshman catcher Emma Smith, freshman second baseman Reagan Bailey and right fielder Shawna Williams, who drove in two runs.
“We practiced really good (Monday),” Matthews said. “I felt really positive coming over here — and especially after that first inning. Then we shut down.
“After the first inning, I think they thought the game was over with and started going through the motions. We are streaky. This is how it has been with us all year.
“We didn’t play good defense but, if we hadn’t made any errors, they would probably still have outscored us.
They hit the ball.”
Careers ended for CBA seniors Taylor Gay, Makayla Williams, Brianna Martin and Anna Bartlett.
Score by innings:
C.B. Aycock 500 002 0 — 7
Fike 036 142 x — 16
WP-Jada Lamm (2-4) 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 2 SO. LP-Marie Kidd 5 IP, 17 H, 14 R, 11 ER, 1 BB, 0 SO.
LEADING HITTERS — Charles B. Aycock: Shawna Williams 2-4, 2 RBI; Abbey Thomas 2-4, 2 2B, RBI; Emma Smith 1-4, RBI; Fike: E.J. Secrest 4-4, 2B, 4 RBI 2 R; Jada Lamm 4-5, 3 R, 2 RBI; Lindsey Curlings 2-4, 3 RBI; Hailey Hammonds 2p-4, 3B, 3 RBI, 2 R; Lindsey Curlings 2-4, 3 RBI; Leann Pittman 2-5, 3B, 2 R, RBI; Taylor Little 2-3, 2 R.