Ladybirds win 20th straight in Big East, defeat Fike 9-1 | The Enterprise
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Ladybirds win 20th straight in Big East, defeat Fike 9-1

Posted on March 24, 2021

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Southern Nash second baseman Alexa Daniel (1) throws to first as Fike's Ashley Pendergrass (4) is forced out in the fifth inning of the 3-A Big East Conference opener on Tuesday. The Ladybirds won 9-1.

Jimmy Lewis | Restoration NewsMedia

Southern Nash second baseman Alexa Daniel (1) throws to first as Fike's Ashley Pendergrass (4) is forced out in the fifth inning of the 3-A Big East Conference opener on Tuesday. The Ladybirds won 9-1.

Southern Nash's Alexa Daniel (1) comes around to score as Fike catcher Ashley Pendergrass turns to field an errant throw in the sixth inning of the 3-A Big East Conference opener on Tuesday. The Ladybirds won 9-1.

Jimmy Lewis | Restoration NewsMedia

Southern Nash's Alexa Daniel (1) comes around to score as Fike catcher Ashley Pendergrass turns to field an errant throw in the sixth inning of the 3-A Big East Conference opener on Tuesday. The Ladybirds won 9-1.

Southern Nash second baseman Alexa Daniel (1) throws to first as Fike's Ashley Pendergrass (4) is forced out in the fifth inning of the 3-A Big East Conference opener on Tuesday. The Ladybirds won 9-1.

Jimmy Lewis | Restoration NewsMedia

Southern Nash second baseman Alexa Daniel (1) throws to first as Fike's Ashley Pendergrass (4) is forced out in the fifth inning of the 3-A Big East Conference opener on Tuesday. The Ladybirds won 9-1.

Southern Nash's Alexa Daniel (1) comes around to score as Fike catcher Ashley Pendergrass turns to field an errant throw in the sixth inning of the 3-A Big East Conference opener on Tuesday. The Ladybirds won 9-1.

Jimmy Lewis | Restoration NewsMedia

Southern Nash's Alexa Daniel (1) comes around to score as Fike catcher Ashley Pendergrass turns to field an errant throw in the sixth inning of the 3-A Big East Conference opener on Tuesday. The Ladybirds won 9-1.

Score by innings:

Fike 001 000 0 1

Southern Nash 113 022 x 9

WP-Kierstin Cooper (1-0) 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 12 SO. LP-Lindsey Curlings (0-1) 6 IP, 10 H, 9 R, 6 ER, 6 BB, 3 SO.

LEADING HITTERS — Fike: Lindsey Curlings 2-2, HR, RBI, Ashley Pendergrass 1-3; Southern Nash: Kierstin Cooper 3-4, 2B, RBI, Taylor Bailey 2-2, Ariel Perry 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI, Addison Brumfield 1-2, 2 RBI, Anna Strickland 1-3.

jlewis@wilsontimes.com | 252-265-7807 | Twitter: @JimmyLewisWT

A core of five seniors has the Southern Nash High varsity softball team fully grasping the added urgency surrounding the 2021 season.

With only conference champions assured of a bid into the North Carolina High School Athletic Association postseason, the Ladybirds are well aware that anything shy of the program’s third consecutive 3-A Big East Conference regular-season title could mean a quick conclusion to its season.

One of those seniors, Kierstin Cooper, helped put Southern Nash on the beginning of the straight-and-narrow Big East path Tuesday night. 

Cooper, who has signed with Barton College, went 3 for 4 with a double and an RBI while tossing a complete-game three hitter as the Ladybirds won their 20th straight game in Big East regular-season play with a 9-1 victory over Fike in the conference opener for both teams.

It was a quick dive into league play for both in just the second game for the Ladybirds and Lady Golden Demons, with Southern Nash evening its record at 1-1. Fike dropped to 0-2. 

The right-handed Cooper worked around the occasional loss of control, striking out 12 Fike batters while walking two. She hit four Lady Demons, including a pair in the fifth inning. However, nothing materialized from the brief threat.

Two of Fike’s three hits came from senior Lindsay Curlings, who took a Cooper offering over the left-field fence for a solo home run in the third that accounted for Fike’s only run. She was hit in the fifth and had a one-out single in the seventh.

“We talked yesterday, we’ve got two home games in conference play this week and the importance of that,” Southern Nash head coach Scott Collie said. “We just talked about the importance of that, and the way the playoffs are going to be set up this year. Every game is always big, but when only the conference champion is guaranteed a spot, it just takes on even more importance. We’ve got five seniors that have been a part of two conference championship teams, and I think they understood that they had to be focused today and ready to go.”

Southern Nash, which had 10 hits against Curlings, scored in every inning at the plate but the fourth. Senior Taylor Bailey had a leadoff single that concluded with her standing on third following a two-base error in left field. Alissa Bailey, also a senior, plated her sister with an RBI groundout to make it 1-0.

Fike’s defense did not help its cause with five errors. Freshman Addison Brumfield’s shot to center field was misplayed, which led to her standing on third and scoring on another error off the bat of sophomore catcher McKenna Batten. 

“There’s a lot to clean up,” Fike head coach Josh Jenkins said. “It’s stuff we’ve been practicing on every day. We’ll sit out at practice for two hours every day that we can get on the field. If we can’t get on the field, we’re in the gym. And it’s stuff that we work on, but when we’re on the field, it’s going to be the players that have to produce. We can’t do it for them.”

A Cooper double followed a leadoff walk to junior Alexa Daniel to put a pair of runners in scoring position. From there, senior Ricki Bartley’s run-scoring single, a Brumfield sacrifice fly and freshman Ariel Perry’s double to left field put the Ladybirds up 6-1.

In just her second varsity contest, Perry was 2 for 4, including an RBI single in the sixth. The Nos. 7-9 positions in the Southern Nash order accounted for 12 plate appearances, with eight of those reaching safely. At the top, Taylor Bailey went 2 for 4.

“One thing I was really happy about was the bottom of our lineup,” Collie said. “We got some production from the bottom, and that was really key.”

Fike’s other hit came by way of senior Ashley Pendergrass in the top of the first. Curlings, in addition to her 2-for-2 outing offensively, struck out three and walked six. Six of her nine runs were earned as the need to get extra outs mounted.

“I saw some people out here struggling, so I just tried to help out as much as I could,” Curlings said.

As a shortened season begins to play itself out, time moves even quicker for teams that can’t find themselves at the top of the Big East standings. 

Perhaps, even a touch faster for Fike’s four-member senior class.

“The big thing is, just get the young girls experience,” Jenkins said. “The bad thing is, our older girls, this is their last go around. And we only get 11 or 12 shots at it.”

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