Appearing in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A softball championship best-of-three series for the third time in five seasons, C.B. Aycock got off to an ideal start against Enka in Game 1 on Friday. The Golden Falcons jumped out to a two-run in the first thanks to their ability to play small-ball and senior Allie Phillips retired the first five batters she faced.
Unfortunately for Aycock, its fast start could not be sustained. It lost 8-6 to Enka at the UNC Greensboro Spartans’ Softball Complex, despite rallying for three runs in the bottom of the seventh.
Trailing 2-0 after the first inning, Enka (25-3) plated two runs in both the second and third frames and took the lead on a two-run home run by senior first baseman Addison Harris.
After giving up the homer, Phillips locked in on the mound as she retired the next 13 batters she faced. But the Sugar Jets mounted a two-out rally in the top of the seventh, scoring four runs on five straight hits.
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“It was a hard-fought battle. We out-hit them. We know we can beat them,” Aycock (29-3) coach Lavon Matthews said. “We had that one bad inning. If they don’t get four in the seventh inning, I think they had five hits in a row. If they don’t get those five hits in a row we come back in the bottom of the seventh and win the ballgame.”
In total, six of Enka’s eight runs came with two outs.
While Phillips showed how dominant she could be at times against Enka, her ability to close out innings proved to be costly.
Matthews attributed Phillips’ struggles to her inability to get ahead in counts.
“I told her we got to get ahead of the count. She got behind on the count and that’s when she got in trouble,” Mattthews said.
Despite trailing by five runs going into the bottom of the seventh, Aycock was able to make things interesting as its first three batters of the inning reached base.
A triple by junior third baseman Tanika Powell brought the Golden Falcons within three, and Powell later scored on a groundout to cut the deficit to two. But Enka senior pitcher Courtney Pearson weathered the storm and protected the Sugar Jets’ lead.
While dropping the first game of a series puts Aycock in a tough position, Matthews is confident in his group’s ability to bounce back.
“We’re going to forget this game. It’s over with,” Matthews said. “There’s nothing you can do about it. We’ll come back tomorrow and try to win one game at a time.”
Game 2 of the 3A softball championship is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. at UNC Greensboro, this time with Aycock batting first as the visiting team. If required, a Game 3 will be played at either 5 or 8 p.m. Saturday.