RALEIGH- As usual, pitching and defense should be featured as the top fast-pitch teams in the state prepare for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state championships this weekend.
The top four teams in each classification have qualified for the double-elimination tournaments at the Walnut Creek Softball Complex. All four of the championships are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
The opening rounds pair Eastern representatives against Eastern representatives and West against West.
This will mark the 12th annual fast pitch championships and the 32nd year for NCHSAA softball, and the Raleigh Sports Consortium is among the host city sponsors.
Here is a look at each of the four championships:
Class 4-A: North Davidson (26-2) derailed the Central Cabarrus juggernaut earlier in the playoffs, snapping Central’s record winning streak at 83 games. North will take on unbeaten Matthews David Butler (28-0) in one opening game.
North Davidson’s Danielle Glosson (23-2, 0.21 ERA and 319 K’s in 173 IP) has four perfect games and nine no-hitters this year and is also batting .384. Butler has been in the softball playoffs nine times in the 10-year history of the school and has been to Walnut Creek three times. Butler has outscored its opponents an amazing 235-7 and has a team batting average of .392. Emily Jeffery is 12-0 on the mound with a perfect 0.00 ERA.
Wake Forest-Rolesville (22-5) will face Wilmington Ashley (22-5) in the other opening game featuring the Eastern teams. WF-R has won five consecutive conference championships and is led by Cap Seven Player of the Year Paige Brantley (7-3, 1.15 ERA, .366 batting average).
Ashley enters the finals on a nine-game winning streak, and the Screaming Eagles are led at the plate by Christa Fullwood (.480 batting average) and pitcher Tiffany Farthing (16-4, 0.81 ERA).
Southwestern Randolph (23-2) battles defending state champion Kings Mountain (26-1) in one opener. The Mountaineers appear to be loaded once again while the high-scoring Southwestern team is paced by Ashley Seawell (.633 batting average) and Natalie Haithcox (.533) Both Valerie Campbell and Brittany Marsh have 7-0 mound marks for Southwestern Randolph.
A perennial softball contender, Pikeville Charles B. Aycock (19-7) takes on Harnett Central (25-3) in the other opener. Aycock has gotten red-hot and reeled off 18 wins in 20 starts after opening with five losses in its first six games. Shelly Lancaster has hit six homers for Aycock and Julia Lancaster is the top pitcher (14-3, 1.29 ERA, 150 K’s and 28 BB’s in 119.1 IP).
Harnett Central has also been hot, now riding a 12-game winning streak. Sophomore Toni Ann Williford leads Central with a .500 batting average and junior Lauren Taylor is the top pitcher (16-2, 0.49 ERA, 207 K’s).
Central Davidson (23-5) will tangle with Canton Pisgah (18-7) in an opening game between Western representatives. Central Davidson has a great one-two punch in Chelsea Leonard and Alison Tysinger. Leonard is batting a team-leading .495 and is 11-4 on the mound with an 0.70 ERA. Tysinger sports a 12-1 mark with an 0.81 ERA, and at the plate she’s hitting at a .430 clip with a team leading 25 RBI.
Pisgah is paced by Kathryn Geouge, a three-time all-conference selection and the 2006 Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year. He is hitting .465 and has four homers and 22 RBI.
The other 2-A opener will send South Lenoir (26-1) against North Pitt (24-2-1). South Lenoir lost its opener and has ripped off 26 consecutive victories, the best of any South Lenoir team in any sport in history. The Lady Devils will face a North Pitt team led by Tiffany Shaw’s sparking .500 batting average and pitcher Faith Sutton (22-2, 0.04 ERA and 354 K’s against just five walks, and a .427 batting average.
Defending 1-A champ East Surry (29-1) will try to repeat and will play Swain County (21-2). The Lady Cardinals of East have won 25 straight and rely on the dominant pitching of Brooke Honeycutt (19-0, 0.06 ERA, 245 K’s and 12 BB’s).
Swain will counter with a pitching staff that has three different pitchers who have thrown no-hitters, including team leader Sarah Davis (17-2, 0.60 ERA, 196 K’s and 43 BB to go with outstanding .567 batting average, four homers and 37 RBI.
Jamesville (17-5) faces Pender (21-5) in the other 1-A opener. Jamesville has been in the playoffs 17 consecutive years but it’s the first visit by the Bullets in the fast-pitch championships and they’ve done it after losing four of their last six regular-season games. Pender enters the championships on a 13-game win streak, powered by the play of Britney Roper (13-4, 0.65 ERA, .430 batting average.
NORTH CAROLINA HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION
2006 STATE FAST PITCH SOFTBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS
Walnut Creek Softball Complex, Raleigh--
North Davidson (26-2) vs. Matthews David Butler (28-0), Friday at 5 p.m. (Field 8)
Wake Forest-Rolesville (22-5) vs. Wilmington Ashley (22-5), Friday at 5 p.m. (Field 9)
Winners' bracket final Friday at 7:30 pm (Field 8)
Elimination game Friday at 7:30 pm (Field 9)
Losers' bracket final Saturday at 11 am (Field 4)
Championship game Saturday at 1:30 pm (Field 4); if needed, a second game will follow at 4 pm
Southwestern Randolph (23-2) vs. Kings Mountain (26-1), Friday at 5 pm (Field 6)
Harnett Central (25-3) vs. Pikeville Charles B. Aycock (19-7), Friday at 5 pm (Field 7)
Winners' bracket final Friday at 7:30 pm (Field 6)
Elimination game Friday at 7:30 pm (Field 7)
Losers' bracket final Saturday at 11 am (Field 3)
Championship game Saturday at 1:30 pm (Field 3); if needed, a second game will follow at 4 pm
Central Davidson (23-5) vs. Canton Pisgah (18-7), Friday at 5 pm (Field 3)
South Lenoir (26-1) vs. North Pitt (24-2-1), Friday at 5 pm (Field 4)
Winners' bracket final Friday at 7:30 pm (Field 3)
Elimination game Friday at 7:30 pm (Field 4)
Losers' bracket final Saturday at 11 am (Field 2)
Championship game Saturday at 1:30 pm (Field 2); if needed, a second game will follow at 4 pm
Swain County (21-2) vs. East Surry (29-1), Friday at 5 pm (Field 1)
Pender (21-5) vs. Jamesville (17-5), Friday at 5 pm (Field 2)
Winners' bracket final Friday at 7:30 pm (Field 1)
Elimination game Friday at 7:30 pm (Field 2)
Losers' bracket final Saturday at 11 am (Field 1)
Championship game Saturday at 1:30 pm (Field 1); if needed, a second game will follow at 4 pm