First Posted: 1/15/2009
LUMBERTON -- When in the hunt for a league championship, priority No. 1 is to take care of your own business first. Of course, it doesn't hurt to get a little help as well.
The Lumberton softball team came up with a hit in both instances Tuesday, as the Lady Pirates dismantled visiting Pine Forest 10-3 in the Two Rivers Conference clash, then found out they got a gift from an unlikely source as county rival Purnell Swett knocked off first-place South View 3-2. Lumberton (21-2, 9-2 TRC) now trails the Tigers (19-4, 10-1) by one game going into their regular season-ending battle Thursday at South View.
The Lady Pirates were hoping to have a shot at a share of the league title Thursday, but they first had to take care of business Monday.
“It was real important to come out here today and kick their tail,” team sparkplug Hannah Hayes said.
Hayes' actions during Monday's romp spoke much louder than her words following the win, as the senior shortstop put together a workman-like 4-for-4 day at the plate with two runs scored and a havoc-wreaking five stolen bases. Hayes stole second base three times, third twice -- including once on a throwback to the pitcher -- and even tried to swipe home on a throwback, but was barely thrown out.
“The first two (times) when we jumped out ahead, Hannah Hayes led off the inning,” Lumberton manager Mackie Register said. “She stole five bases today. She definitely makes things happen for us. She's the heartbeat of our team, I've said that many times, everybody just kind of feeds off her.”
Those two early efforts spearheaded by Hayes left little doubt in what the outcome of the game would be, as the Lady Pirates plated three runners in the first inning and four more in the third. Aside from a pair of RBI doubles by Anna Evans and Evie Locklear, the rest of Lumberton's offense came in the scrappy manner Register's crew has become known for.
In the first three innings alone, the Lady Pirates banged out five singles, including two infield hits, advanced three times on infield throws, stole two bases, and took advantage of two Pine Forest errors which resulted in four unearned runs.
“That's something we work on and we talk about,” said Register. “Doing the little things right, putting the ball in play. We really work on those things, bunting and putting the ball in play.”
Case in point was the fact that Lumberton batters recorded just three RBIs in scoring 10 runs. Seven runs came off errors or advancing after an out was recorded.
“Things are just kind of clicking for us right now,” Register said. “Our defense is playing real well, we're getting good pitching, we're getting all the ingredients right now.”
Lumberton's defense was flawless until the last two innings, when three miscues helped lead to two Pine Forest runs. Up to that point, though, the Lady Pirates were stellar behind starting pitcher Dominique Brooks.
The combination of Brooks and a solid defense worked, as the senior hurler struck out just one and gave up seven hits over five innings, but rarely gave up a solid shot. The Lady Pirates tightened their D when needed, including a beautiful two-on, two-out diving catch by Evans at catcher in the fourth, and the end result was nine stranded runners for Pine Forest.
Games notes -- Lumberton was once again without the services of leading hitter Sierra Brooks. The sophomore center fielder, who was batting .571, injured her knee in an AAU basketball game a few weekends back, and is scheduled to have an MRI this morning. Her return to the team is unknown, but doubtful … Hayes, Evans and Cheryl Locklear all scored twice for the Lady Pirates … Aside from the doubles by Evans and Evie Locklear, Lumberton's other RBI came off the bat of Rikki Blanks, whose bloop single scored Evie Locklear in the third. … If Lumberton beats South View on Thursday, the two squads will finish tied atop the league standings having split their series. In that case, a coin toss will be used to determine which team gets the top seed for the conference tourney.
Pine Forest 010 000 2 -- 3 9 4
Lumberton 304 021 x -- 10 10 3
Batteries (IP-K-BB): PF -- Whitley (6-2-3) and Rubio; L -- Brooks (5-1-0), Wilkins (2-2-1) and Evans.
WP: Brooks (18-2). LP: Whitley.
2B: PF -- Gray; L -- Evans, E. Locklear.
Multi-hit games: PF -- Lee 2-4, Gray 2-3; L -- Hayes 4-4 (2 runs, 5 SB), Johnson 2-3.
Records: Pine Forest 10-11, 5-6 TRC; Lumberton 21-2, 9-2.