Cary News

Golden Hawks fall in state championship series

By almost any measure, Holly Springs’ 2012 softball season was a rousing success. The Golden Hawks did exactly what they set as a preseason goal: advance further than they did a season ago.

But when your end comes in a state 4A championship series, as Holly Springs’ did Saturday at the Walnut Creek Softball Complex in two 2-0 losses to Indian Trail Porter Ridge, there’s still a good deal of disappointment.

“Your ultimate goal is to get to a state championship; it’s where everyone aspires to be,” said Holly Springs coach Jill Munchick. “We’ve worked hard to get here, won a 13-inning game, earned the right to be here. But in athletics you have those highs and lows. There’s going to be a winner and a loser. In a way, we don’t feel like we lost; they just scored more runs.”

The loss comes a year after the Golden Hawks finished third in the state and ends the run of Erica Nunn, one of the state’s best pitchers, as well as fellow senior standouts Jenna Firestein, Kristen Krebs and Kayla Minyard.

Timely hitting and opportunistic play allowed the Pirates – 33-1 and ranked as high as seventh in the nation in some polls – to grab first-inning leads in both games.

After taking advantage of two walks in the first inning of the first game to score two runs, Porter Ridge jumped to a 1-0 lead in the second game when Courtney Price doubled and came around to score on two passed balls.

Porter Ridge’s pitcher Lexi Davis, an Auburn signee, made excellent use of those early leads.

“When you’re in pitchers’ duels, you know it’s going to come down to a few plays,” said Porter Ridge coach Lael Rorie. “But getting a lead early helps us do what we do: rely on our pitching and our defense.”

Davis held the Golden Hawks (25-4) without a real scoring threat, building on a season in which she’s allowed only two earned runs.

Nunn singled twice for Holly Springs but didn’t advance past first base. Only one Hawks batter reached second base in the deciding game.

In the fourth inning, Tara Loken singled for the Pirates and moved to third on a wild pitch and a sacrifice bunt, before scoring on Bobbi Jones’ bunt single to make the lead 2-0.

Nunn retired the final 14 batters of the first game. She finished the game with 10 strikeouts and three walks.

Holly Springs had the only two hits in the opener. Firestein reached on an infield hit in the third inning, moved to second on Kristen Krebs’ sacrifice bunt and was awarded third on an illegal pitch call against Davis. But she was stranded there when Davis fielded Nunn’s bunt attempt cleanly and threw to first base for the third out.

Katlyn Hillesand singled to center with two outs in the fourth and was stranded there as well. Davis retired the final 10 Hawk batters.

In the two games, Davis had 16 strikeouts and issued just one walk; Nunn totaled 19 strikeouts against five walks.