'Stangs Complete Sweep of Vikings
After trailing most of the way, North Moore scored six runs in its final at bat to top Union Pines 9-7 in a cross-county softball clash Wednesday in Cameron.
With the victory, the visiting 1-A Mustangs improved to 5-2 as they picked up a season sweep against the 3-A Lady Vikings.
Ashley Davis tossed a complete game to get the pitching win for North Moore, allowing five earned runs on 11 hits and two walks while fanning eight batters.
North Moore head coach Sammy McNeill felt pitching strikes and knowing the strike zone while batting were the two most critical aspects in deciding the game’s outcome.
“Since day one I have been preaching to our team about how the strike zone is about 18 inches wide, and you got the height from kneecaps to armpits. So if it is in that area we are hitting it and if it isn’t, then we are going to let it ride,” he said. “If the officials are doing their job and calling a fair strike zone, then we are going to usually be all right, because nothing good comes out of swinging at bad pitches. So we were having Ashley throw the ball out there near the outside corner. She was able to consistently place it out there, getting them (Vikings) to chase those pitches and keep chasing them.
“If a team is going to swing at bad pitches, we are going to keep right on throwing them.”
North Moore tallied 13 free passes, and seven of its hits came on batter’s counts. In contrast, Union Pines only reached base twice via walks. The team had five passed balls and four wild pitches as a staff.
“The difference in the game tonight, when you really look at it,” McNeill said, “is they went through three pitchers and we had one in Ashley. Also, we had one passed ball, and I am not sure how many they had. The hits, the steals, the errors, the plays in the field were all part of it, but the bottom line is those two things are what decided this one, and that is just what I told the girls.”
Union Pines coach Randy Calcutt also focused on walks and passed balls in his postgame comments.
“The hits did not hurt us that much tonight,” Calcutt said. “It was more the walks and passed balls/wild pitches. When you load up the bases with walks and one or two hits scattered here and there, it’s hard to combat that as a team.
“It also makes for a helpless feeling as a coach, and after the game, that is what I told our team. I let them know that we have to throw strikes. It is something we have to get ironed out, because if we get where we can find the strike zone and throw strikes, then I’ll bet on my team every night, but obviously that did not happen tonight.”
North Moore sent 12 batters to the plate in the top of the seventh, with the first five all crossing the plate to push ahead 8-5.
Center fielder Heather Dunmyer started the frame with a sharp single to left. Next, Jessie Sheffield and Andrea Brower got aboard with walks.
Catcher Julie Williams reached on a critical infield single, knocking in a run. Kasi Martin was next up for North Moore and the first baseman reach with a walk that brought in the game-tying run.
From there, Vike relief pitcher Kyrin Walker settled down, retiring the next two batters to put Union Pines in a spot to leave the bases loaded and the tilt all-square going into the bottom of the seventh.
Another walk, followed by an RBI single from Gwen Steslicke, gave the Mustangs a 7-5 lead. Finally, with the bases still loaded, Dunmyer delivered her second hit of the inning, placing a two-run double down the line in left field to deliver the last blow of the rally.
In total the Mustangs tallied four hits during the surge, on top of four walks as seven batters came up with the bases loaded.
Union Pines mounted a threat in the bottom half of the frame. Junior Tyler Ross started the inning with a triple to right center and then scored on a throwing error. Lexie Coxe then reached on another error, this time on a sharply hit ground ball to shortstop, and Walker followed with a rocket up the middle.
The pair both moved up a base, on a wild pitch, allowing Janelle Imbriale to drive in Coxe with a deep sacrifice fly. With two outs, sophomore Carrie Marks was Union Pines’ last hope, and she belted a ball to deep left field that had home run power as it launched toward the fence — it just did not have the carry as it dived sharply into the glove of Brower to bring an end to the proceedings.
The Mustangs trailed 2-1 through one inning after a two-run double by Cox in the bottom of the frame.
Sophomore second baseman Amber Williams extend ed the Union Pines lead to 3-1 with a rope up the middle for an RBI single in the third inning. A one-out RBI off the bat of North Moore shortstop Casey Turner trimmed the Viking lead to 3-2 through three-and-a-half innings.
Union Pines then answered in the bottom of the fourth as Williams and Ross each drove in a run to push the margin to 5-2.
North Moore plated one more run on a wild pitch in the sixth inning to make it a two-run tilt, before exploding for six runs in the top of the seventh.
Steslicke and Dunmyer led the way offensively for the Mustangs. From the leadoff spot in the lineup, Steslicke went 3-for-5 with two runs, while two-hole hitter Dunmyer scored once, tallied two RBIs and went 3-for-4.
Vike shortstop Onika Williams was red hot with the stick, going 4-for-4 with two doubles and scoring three runs. A. Williams finished the game 2-for-4, while Ross went 1-for-1 with two runs and two walks.
North Moore and Union Pines each return to conference action Friday. The Mustangs (2-1 in league play) host 1-A Yadkin Valley Conference leader East Montgomery (6-0, 4-0) at 6 p.m. in Robbins, while the Vikings travel to Hope Mills to take on Cape Fear Valley Conference rival Gray’s Creek (3-3, 0-1) at 7 p.m.
Union Pines (2-3) started the week at home with a 16-6 league win against Overhills Tuesday to improve its 3-A Cape Fear Valley Conference record to 2-0. Calcutt hopes his team can keep hitting and rectify its pitching control issue in time for its critical league clash with Gray’s Creek.
“We are hitting the ball good enough to win,” said Calcutt. “Right now, really the offense has come around fine, and our defense is in good shape and has been good enough to win. Having said that, I expect Gray’s Creek to give us a tough game, and we better go there ready to play.
“Even though we lost tonight, our goal is still out there, and I told our girls that. We were not playing this season to beat North Moore, we want to win our conference and be playing our best ball when we get to the state playoffs, so we can make a postseason run.”
Contact F.W. Manning II at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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