NPC Softball Tournament: North Iredell 3, South Rowan 0

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 11, 2011

By Mike London
CHINA GROVE ó Mascara, sweat and running tears produced interesting makeup combinations for South Rowan softball seniors on Wednesday.
It wouldíve been humorous if it hadnít hurt so much.
Sixth-seeded South lost 3-0 to second-seeded North Iredell in an NPC tournament semifinal at Carson, ending its season and closing the book on the athletic careers of a senior class that included batterymates Kim Fesperman and Nicole Barringer.
Barringer pulled on a South uniform about 250 times as a softball catcher, volleyball setter and basketball forward, and yesterday marked the final time.
ěI knew it would hit me,î she said. ěI just didnít know it would hit me this hard. Not playing again with Kim, especially. Weíve been together since seventh grade.î
South didnít do anything to beat itself, playing cleanly in the field and getting a whale of a pitching performance from Fesperman, who threw a five-hitter.
ěWe played a good game, but the hits just didnít fall for us, and they did put a few hits together,î Fesperman said.
South couldnít get it going offensively against North Iredellís strong junior pitcher Karley Harkey.
ěKarley was on,î North Iredell coach Lauren Gaither said. ěAnd when sheís on, itís hard to do very much.î
Fesperman easily put zeroes on the scoreboard in the first and second, and got help from her defense to hold off NI in the third. Shortstop Kaitlyn Jones and right fielder Brenna Pruitt snagged liners, while left fielder Emma Pope yanked down a wicked drive that looked like it might soar over her head.
But NI broke through in the fourth. Harkey whipped a double to the left-center gap to start the inning, and Elizabeth Johnsonís clutch, two-out single to left made it 1-0.
A walk and a sac bunt (Fesperman made a terrific play to get the out at first) started the NI fifth before Timber Davenport followed with a rare infield double. With South fielders charging or moving to cover bases, Davenport punched a ball into the shortstop hole. She reached second base as South senior second baseman Kirstie Corriher chased the ball down.
A wild pitch made it 2-0, and Harkeyís RBI groundout to short made it 3-0.
South got a solid second-inning double from Katherine Starnes, but itís only other shot at breaking through came in the sixth. An infield single by Barringer, a walk to Jones and an infield hit by Corriher filled the bases, but Mackenzie Dabbs, Southís leader in batting average, popped up to end the threat.
Harkey put away South 1-2-3 in the seventh.
ěOn our Senior Night, we hit the ball a lot better against her,î South coach Cassie Buckwalter said. ěWe just didnít hit today, but other than that, we played well and Kim pitched an amazing game. At the end, the girls played like a playoff team.î
NI moves to a title game at 6 p.m. on Friday against East Rowan and will have catalyst Breanna Davenport, who was out Wednesday, back in the lineup.
ěWe progressed a lot from our first game against East to the second game,î Gaither said. ěWe had a goal to make the finals. We knew if we could make it, East would be there to play us. It should be a very good game.î