One night after taking a walk-off win at home against Harnett County and Tri-County Six 3-A Conference rival Triton, visiting Harnett Central edged the Hawks 4-3 in 11 innings on the Hawks’ Senior Night on Thursday.
The Trojans swept the Hawks for the second straight night with varsity wins in baseball and softball as well.
“The girls really stuck it through to the end,” said Central softball coach Lauren Taylor. “They refused to stay down. They get up. They stayed focused, took care of business and we got two wins out of it.”
Triton coach Mark Whitman cited missed opportunities as the key factor.
“Just like last night, we had opportunities and didn’t take advantage,” Whitman said. “We just didn’t take advantage of the breaks. We had our chances two or three times. It’s just one of those things. I’m proud of the girls. We battled and had our chances. Harnett Central’s a good team.”
Anna Ausley, who drove in the winning run Wednesday, scored the go-ahead run on a double from Shelbie Gill in the top of the 11th inning.
The Trojans (13-8, 10-0 TCSC), who clinched the conference title Wednesday, finish the regular season unbeaten in conference play and will have a first round bye when the conference tournament begins Monday.
Fallon Wimberly was the winning pitcher for Central in both games against Triton. In four innings of relief, she gave up no runs on no hits, two walks and one hit batter, with three strikeouts. Starter Ansley Lee went seven innings, giving up three earned runs on seven hits and one walk, with six strikeouts.
“I was really pleased with both,” Taylor said. “They pretty much both got full games in and they did well.”
Gracyn Slaughter was the pitcher of record for the Hawks (15-5, 7-3). In 11 relief innings, she gave up two earned runs on nine hits and one walk, with three strikeouts.
“Gracyn came in and pitched lights out,” Whitman said. “It’s hard to maintain and throw your best.”
Gill had three hits, including two doubles, and two RBIs to lead Central at the plate.
“I just had confidence going up there,” Gill said. “I said I was going to hit the ball and just hit the ball. I just went up there with confidence and that’s all you need.”
Wimberly had two hits, including a triple, one RBI and one run scored. Ausley had two hits, including a double, and two runs scored. Alexis Carroll had two hits, including a double, and one run scored. Tanner Williford and Kolby Medlin had one hit apiece.
Brittany Ireland had two hits and one RBI to lead Triton.
Kaila Cooney had one hit, one RBI and one run scored. Hayden Smith had one hit and one RBI. Haley Hicks and Alexis Howard each had one hit and one run scored. Slaughter had a double.
Prior to the game, Triton honored six seniors: Haley Hicks, Kathryn Elliott, Hayden Smith, Leanna Whaley, Samantha Herring and Allure Smith.
Carroll led off the game with a double and scored on a triple from Wimberly, who scored on a wild pitch.
After Williford and Medlin each drew walks, Slaughter was called to the circle. Her first pitch led to a line drive to Howard, at short, who threw the ball to Hayden Smith, at second, who threw it to Whaley, at first, to turn a triple play to retire the side.
“I’ve been coaching for 18 years, if not more, and that’s the first triple play I’ve ever been a part of,” Whitman said. “The girls knew what to do and got us out of it.”
Hicks led of the bottom of the third inning with a base hit and advanced on a base hit from Howard. Hicks scored on a base hit from Cooney, Howard scored on a base hit from Ireland and Cooney scored on a base hit from Hayden Smith to give Triton a 3-2 lead.
Ausley doubled in the fifth inning and scored on a base hit from Gill to tie the game. Six innings later, the pair combined again for the go-ahead run. With two out in the 11th, Ausley singled and scored on a double from Gill.
“Both times it was just you needed it to happen,” Gill said. “It’s really just confidence. You’ve just got to go up there and say you’re going to hit the ball.”
“Both (Ausley and Gill) saw the ball really well tonight and had a number of quality at-bats,” Taylor said. “They were able to put us in the position to get runners on base and knock them across and help get us the win.”
Triton got the tying run in scoring position in the bottom of the inning on a fielder’s choice and a sacrifice, but a fly ball to center fielder Lyndsey Brewer ended the game.
Triton’s path through the conference tournament will be decided when Western Harnett hosts Union Pines Friday. The Vikings won the draw in the event of a tie, meaning a win by them gives them the No. 2 seed, and the other first round bye, in the conference tournament. A win by the Eagles gives Triton the No. 2 seed.
Whether it’s Triton or Union Pines, the No. 3 seed will host both first-round games Monday, with the three-seed facing Southern Lee after Western Harnett meets Lee County. Harnett Central will host both second-round games Tuesday. The No. 2 seed will meet the 3 vs 6 winner and the Trojans will face the 4 vs 5 winner. The highest remaining seed hosts the championship Thursday.
HC dominates in soccer
Central took a 7-0 win in girls soccer as Alexis Gordon had three goals and an assist. Austin Bowling had a goal and three assists. Adding one goal each for the Trojans were Jolee Nicholson, McKinley Heston and Braelyn Barnes.
Honeycutt wins at Triton
Central baseball coach Lance Honeycutt got his first win at his alma mater as the Trojans topped host Triton, 5-2.
Central’s Paul Gervase took a perfect game into the seventh inning when the Hawks had three hits and scored two runs.
Dalen Thompson, Josh McMillan and Zyon Hicks had hits for Triton. McMillan and Hicks had RBIs. Thompson and Grayson Bradham scored runs.