Prep softball: Trojans beat Carson; SPC race wide open
KANNAPOLIS — Carson’s stay at the top of the South Piedmont Conference softball standings lasted less than 24 hours. Now the Cougars have company.
Carson lost 2-0 at Northwest Cabarrus on Thursday, and now it’s a three-way tie among the Cougars, Trojans and West Rowan for first place with 6-2 league records.
“No one expected us to do well,” Trojans coach Jamie Blalock said. “We lost a game (to West Rowan) on errors and we lost one (to East Rowan) when we had injuries, but we’re pushing it now, and we’re letting people know that we’re here. It’s great for our girls to be tied for first at the halfway point. That’s a good place to be.”
Carson had a chance in the first, loading the bases on two errors and a Madison Barnhardt single. But that’s when Blalock sent Brittany Duncan to the circle, and Duncan owned the rest of the game. Duncan struck out Lacee Hunsucker and got Krista Peninger to pop up to get out of that-first inning jam, and the Cougars were quiet the rest of the day. Duncan fanned 13 batters.
“We depend on her a lot,” Blalock said. “But a lot of girls helped out today.”
Coming back from a torn ACL that sidelined her all last season, Hunsucker was pitching on back-to-back days for the first time this year. She performed well — 12 strikeouts — but the Trojans beat her with two scratch runs in the fourth.
With one out in the NWC fourth, Alli Florian hit a meek popup that bounced off the glove of charging Carson first baseman Micah Furr.
Savannah Lambert followed with a well-placed bunt to the right of the circle. Hunsucker fielded it. She had no play, but she tried to get the out at first and skipped the throw into right field. Barnhardt gloved the ball in right and fired home over the head of catcher Kaycee Kennedy, as Florian scored and Lambert took second.
“That’s what we want do,” Blalock said. “We want to make our opponents make errors.”
After a sacrifice bunt advanced Lambert to third, Savannah Hott plopped a soft single into left field for a 2-0 lead.
With a two-run cushion, Duncan took it from there. Carson kept going down 1-2-3 on strikeouts and routine defensive plays.
“Their pitcher is good,” Carson coach Dee Miller said. “She hit spots. She moved it around.”
Duncan ended the game with a strikeout on a riseball. It was the first tough day in a while for the Cougars. Carson had been on a four-game winning streak since losing 3-0 to West Rowan on March 13.
“It’s a wide-open league,” Miller said. “You’ve got to come to play every day to have a chance to win.”
Carson 000 000 0 — 0 1 4
NW Cabarrus 000 200 x — 2 3 2
W — Duncan. L – Hunsucker.
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