Familiar tournament rivals met on unfamiliar turf, but the result was the same.
C.B. Aycock of Pikeville and South Johnston met in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A East regional final series in each of the past two years, with Aycock winning both times.
The Golden Falcons won again in the Harnett Central Spring Break Tournament final when they came from behind for a 7-6 win over South Johnston Wednesday at Harnett Central’s field.
“It’s tough losing to them again,” said South Johnston senior centerfielder Anna Webster. “But we feel we’re making progress. We feel we can beat them if we play them again. We’re hitting the ball better and pitching well.”
Webster, who is committed to Charleston Southern for basketball, hit her fifth home run of the year in the bottom of the seventh inning over the left-center field fence to trim Aycock’s lead to 7-6. But the solo blast was the Trojans’ only hit and run in the inning to end the game.
“We always know we’re always going to get a tough game from South Johnston,” Aycock head coach LeVon Matthews said. “I told our players we’ve got a target on our backs and we always have to be ready. We know they want to beat us just (like) we want to beat them.”
South Johnston jumped on Aycock for a 4-0 lead after the first inning and led 5-3 through five innings before the Falcons rallied with two runs in the top of the seventh. Aycock shortstop Madison Walton led off with a single to right-center field. Aycock benefited from two infield errors to score the go-ahead run and an insurance run that was needed to prevent Webster’s home run from sending the contest into extra innings.
“I’m proud of the way we played, but we’ve got to figure out ways to close out games,” said second-year South Johnston head coach Amanda Smith. “It’s been the same old story for the games we’ve lost this year. We’ve lost them late in the game. Aycock is a great team, but we have to execute plays. When they give you a ground ball you’ve got to get the out. Same thing with pitching; we’ve got to execute our pitches. ”
Smith said she talked to her team about believing it can beat Aycock despite the playoff losses.
“We just have to believe we can beat them for seven innings instead of just the first five,” she said. “That goes for me. I’ve got to find ways to build that confidence to do better.”
Western Harnett 7, Harnett Central 6: Western Harnett won the third-place game in eight innings. Western Harnett senior catcher Jamin Roberts was 4-of-5 with three RBIs and scored the winning run. She doubled in the eighth and came home on a fielder’s choice followed by a throwing error.
Harnett Central senior third baseman Brittany Clarke was 3-of-4 with one RBI and sophomore third baseman Tanner Williford was 2-of-4 with an RBI.
Triton 8, Union Pines 4: Lindsey Champion led Triton to the win in the consolation game on the mound and at the plate. She was 3-of-4 with a three-run home run. She pitched four innings to pick up the win.