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Falcons hold off Aces

WINDSOR – Sometimes confidence within the young is considered arrogance. And sometimes it’s just that — confidence.

Bertie High freshman softball player Caroline White displayed that Tuesday and helped her Lady Falcons pick up a key Northeastern Coastal Conference softball win over previously unbeaten Edenton 5-4.

“They knew we were going with (senior) Courtney Dunlow, so we decided to throw something different at them today,” said jubilant Bertie coach Jackie Copeland amid the din of joyous shrieks from her team in the dugout after the game.

“I felt comfortable with Caroline,” she added, “because she’s been pitching since she was a little girl and I asked her if it was any pressure, and she said, ‘Coach, it’s just another game, we’ve got this and if we don’t we win or lose as a team’.”

White also helped her team at the plate by driving in a pair of runs. Jody Mizelle, Christie Brown, Terri Lynn Smith and Sandi Todd also had hits, with Todd also driving in a run.

White’s only trouble came in the second inning, when she surrendered three runs to give Edenton a 3-1 lead; but after Bertie re-took the lead it, 5-4, it came down to White’s getting out of a two-out jam with the Lady Aces having the tying run 60 feet away and Edenton’s clutch-player, Kelli Patrick, at the plate.

Instead of succumbing to nerves, White got Patrick to hit a grounder to second and despite Patrick’s sliding and diving attempt to reach first base, Bertie recorded the final out – and the win.

“I didn’t pull her in the seventh inning,” said Copeland, “because I knew even though she wasn’t hitting her targets that she would come back because that’s the type of player she is.”

The game opened with Patrick getting a two-out single in the first, but White settled down and struck out the next Aces batter to pull off a scoreless half-inning.

In their half of the first Copeland started aggressively as Mizelle drew a walk off starting pitcher Patrick, stole second and third, and came home on a passed ball in the dirt for a 1-0 Bertie lead.

Edenton came back to post three runs on the board in the top of the second. Callie Copeland battled at the plate to draw a walk on nine pitches, was bunted over the second base and then took third on a passed ball.

Copeland then scored on a solid single to left field by Samantha Brickhouse for the equalizer and a 1-1 score. After the next batter walked, Sha Taylor’s single to center brought in two more runs and staked the Aces to a 3-1 lead.

In Bertie’s half of the second, Copeland made more bold moves as Mizelle singled with one out then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt that was a close play at first base. Mizelle then stole third and with Courtney Dunlow at the plate, Mizelle turned to Copeland in the coach’s box.

“I was still a little steamed about the play at first,” said Copeland, “but I told Jody to go for it because I knew she had the speed.”

Mizzelle then took off at full-speed for home, sliding in safely with the steal and cutting Edenton’s lead to 3-2.

Bertie tied the game in the fourth and went ahead, 5-3, in the fifth as White drove in two runs with a single to right field.

That set the table for the drama in the top of the seventh. After White walked her first two batters, Edenton’s Brickhouse stole second, was sacrificed to third, and came home on a groundout that moved Erin Gabel to third.

But White’s heroics staved off a tie and produced the rousing celebration in the Bertie dugout after the final out.

“She’s no ordinary freshman,” said Edenton (6-1, 2-1) coach Joseph Johnson about White. “She’s going to be one of the better pitchers in eastern North Carolina in the next couple of years, no doubt about it.

“We made more mental errors than they did,” he added, “and I think that cost us the game; but you saw two great teams battling it out out there today.”

Bertie (5-1, 3-0) plays at Northeastern on Thursday before the showdown with Hertford County on Friday.