Clayton softball wins in 12 innings

Staff WriterMarch 16, 2007 

This time, it took only 12 innings.

Clayton and host West Johnston battled it out on the softball diamond Thursday night. Finally, Clayton senior Sara Harde sparked a three-run rally that led to a 4-3 victory.

Last spring, the two teams went 18 innings in the Greater Neuse Conference championship and Clayton won that game by the same score.

Clayton coach Aaron Firebaugh said the atmosphere was much the same, though there was less riding on the game.

"We have six seniors on the team that really wanted this game," Firebaugh said.

Harde's base hit scored the first run in the top of the 12th inning, and two more runs followed.

West Johnston came close to tying the score in the bottom half of the inning.

Clayton pitcher Sarah Jackson, who pitched a seven-inning, no-hitter Wednesday night against East Wake, was back for all 12 innings, getting out of several tight spots.

In the ninth, with the score tied, Jackson threw enough strikes to escape after having a runner on second with no outs.

In the bottom of the 12th, she earned the win after getting out of another tight situation -- the tying run on second with one out after giving up two runs.

"We knew coming in that it was going to be a low-scoring game," said Firebaugh, who praised West Johnston pitcher Amanda Davenport, a junior.

THREE AT 35: Three high school golfers medaled, each with a 1-under-par 35, in Tri-Eight Conference play at The Preserve at Jordan Lake Golf Club on Wednesday.

The trio included Austin King of Athens Drive, Kevin O'Connell of Green Hope and Lee County's Carson Lanier.

With all others shooting a 37, Green Hope topped the eight-team field.

FAST TIMES, GOOD DISTANCE: Host Clayton beat Garner, East Wake and Holly Springs in boys and girls track.

For the boys, Clayton's Johnny Dutch ran a 49.7 in the 400; Garner's Booker Nunnley ran a 15.0 in the 110-meter hurdles and a 40.1 in the 300-meter hurdles. East Wake's LaMarr Davis ran the 100 in 11.0 and the 200 in 22.0.

"He's a great combination of speed and endurance," said Clayton coach Bennett Jones.

Clayton's relay teams also posted some quick times. It ran the 800 in 1:32.0 and the 3200 in 8:41.

For the girls, Clayton's Melody McGee posted a 48.3 in the 300-meter hurdles. Garner's relay teams ran the 800 in 1:49.9 and the 1600 in 4:27.7. Clayton's Elizabeth Rivers posted a 9-6 in the pole vault.

ATHENS DRIVE NOT LAX: In girls lacrosse, Athens Drive edged Cardinal Gibbons in a 5-4 decision.

Staff writer Javier Serna can be reached at 836-4953 or jserna@newsobserver.com.

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