03/18/17 — SOFTBALL -- So. Wayne @ C.B. Aycock

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SOFTBALL -- So. Wayne @ C.B. Aycock

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 18, 2017 11:25 PM


PIKEVILLE -- Put the ball in Mackenzie Wheeler's glove and you're guaranteed one thing -- the contact pitcher lets her defense work behind her.

Friday afternoon proved a perfect example.

Wheeler benefited from two double plays and scattered four hits during a 10-0, mercy-rule victory over county rival Southern Wayne in the Eastern Carolina 3-A/4-A Conference opener for both teams.

The right-hander used just two pitches -- a change-up and fastball to keep the Saints guessing at the plate. The combination resulted in 45 strikes and led to 15 putouts by a defense that didn't commit an error.

"Mckenzie pitched a great ballgame," CBA head coach LaVon Matthews said. "She's good at locating, hitting her spots. If you don't have a good defense behind you, you're in trouble."

Southern Wayne had six batters reach base.

None advanced past first.

Wheeler closed the first inning with a comebacker to the mound. She induced an inning-ending groundout to shortstop Cassandra Lassiter in the third, and caught the Saints watching a third-strike fastball on the inside of the plate in the fourth.

"The scoreboard doesn't reflect how they played, that's for sure," said first-year SW head coach Jamie Williams, who played at the University of Mount Olive.

"They played really well. We hit the ball, we just didn't manufacture our runs like we should have. We're learning."

Aycock plated at least one run in each inning, including four in the second.

Matthews, who has tinkered with the lineup during the first six games, just might have found a lethal combination against the Saints. His top five batters -- lead-off Connor Vinson, Mookie Powell, Lassiter, Hannah Vinson and Cara Lenzi combined for 10 of the Golden Falcons' 14 hits.

Taylor Puetz, in the seven spot, batted 3-for-3 with an RBI.

Leah Campbell added a hit in the nine spot.

"(Hitting) that's what I was tickled about," Matthews said.

The Golden Falcons batted 9-for-21 with runners in scoring position and left six on base. Powell, pinch-runner Allison Shingleton and Lassiter combined to steal four bases.

Kelly Dail, Rebecca Coor, Iyahna Bess and Kayla Raynor banged out one hit apiece for the Saints. Coor's single hit the top of the center-field fence.

"Too bad the wind wasn't blowing out tonight," Williams said.

Dawn Anderson took the mound loss.

Aycock (6-0 overall, 1-0 ECC) travels to D.H. Conley on Tuesday. The Vikings won the 2015 ECCtitle and shared the 2014 crown with the Golden Falcons, who are 71-11 in league play since 2010.

Southern Wayne (1-5, 0-1) visits Goldsboro on Monday.