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Lady Falcons edge closer

WINDSOR – If there were any doubting thoughts that Bertie High wants anything less than the top seeding next week when the NCHSAA 3-A softball playoffs begin then you can look no further than Thursday’s shutout win over rival Hertford County as evidence. 

The Lady Falcons routed the Lady Bears, 11-0, in a five-inning affair to push their record to 21-1 and 10-1 in the Northeastern Coastal Conference.

&uot;They want it,” said a smiling coach Jackie Copeland, &uot;and they’re beginning to feel now that goal is in sight.&uot;

Pitcher Megan Cowan registered her tenth shutout with the win and Abby Parker and Christie Brown each went 2-for-3 to pace the Bertie attack.

The Lady Falcons need to just defeat First Flight in a make-up home contest Friday to end their regular season with 22 wins.

After Cowan retired the side in order in the top of the first inning – two of those outs coming on a pair of strikeouts – the Bertie bats went to work, and maybe more importantly, so did their speed.

Jody Mizelle opened the Bertie first with a solid infield hit deep in the hole at shortstop and, after stealing second, came around to score the first Bertie run as Abby Parker blooped a single into shallow left field and then Parker legged it out to second base for a double. 

Following a Courtney Dunlow walk, Christie Brown moved Dunlow to third on a single that brought home Parker for the second run.

Lady Bears pitcher Amber Matthews seemed to settle down after that rocky start and retired the next two batters, but Bertie was hardly done. 

Cowan helped her cause at the plate with a shot to left that was misplayed for an error allowing Dunlow and Brown to score to make it a 4-0 Bertie lead.  A pair of wild pitches got Cowan home for the fifth run of the inning and Courtney Perry delivered Chelsea Dunlow, who had walked, for the final run of the inning, and Bertie was out to a 6-0 lead after just one inning.

The Lady Falcons added two more runs in each of the next two innings and a solo run in the fourth for a 10-0 lead.

Just when it looked like Cowan would notch her sixth no-hitter of the season, Antoinette Lyles led off the Hertford County fifth with a solid smash into the hole between second and short to break up the perfect game and give the Lady Bears their lone safety of the contest.

Cowan retired the next three batters to close out the game with no Hertford County player getting past first base the entire afternoon.

&uot;Our hitting was timely,&uot; said Copeland afterward, &uot;including Courtney Perry’s sacrifice in the bottom of the third inning. These kids can come off the bench and contribute to our success in so many ways.&uot;

In all, Bertie collected just eight hits, but seven were for extra bases and the Lady Falcons were off and ‘flying’ with four stolen bases to add to the total. 

&uot;I keep the team focused&uot;, added Copeland, &uot;because we’re very spirited and very spiritual, and we’re close because of love of the game, and love of each other&uot;.