Rams dismiss Pungo

Published 8:29 am Tuesday, May 4, 2010

AHOSKIE – Usually you practice and then you play.

But with the Tarheel Independent Conference Tournament championship and possible high seeding in the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association playoffs looming, Ridgecroft School softball coach Larry Smith isn’t taking any chances.

Thursday at home in the TIC tournament’s first round, the Lady Rams crushed Pungo Christian Academy, 14-4, and then proceeded to have a practice session after the final out. It was Ridgecroft’s first game in 10 days after a rainout Tuesday in Elizabeth City against Albemarle.

“I’m trying to get a little rust out of us,” said Smith with a grin. “We’ve been on break, had the prom, and now that we’ve got those out of the way we want to go to Hobgood (Academy) to finish the TIC and hopefully be playing (in the championship game) on Monday, too.”

If this was rusty, you’d love to see the Lady Rams when they’re a well-oiled machine.

Ridgecroft collected just six hits en route to the 10-run win, but took advantage of 11 walks and a pair of costly Lady Raider errors.

Sara Hackney drove in three runs while Bryce Harrison went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. Pitcher Mary-Kate Morris drove in a run and on the mound had six strikeouts while surrendering just five hits over five innings in the shortened game.

Jodi Rose was 2-for-3 for Pungo while Tess Smithwick had an RBI triple.

Ridgecroft got on the board in the bottom of the first when Emily Cooke walked, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and then came home on Hackney’s infield base hit. Hackney legged it all the way to third when the ball was thrown away then scored on a double-steal after Morris’ hit down the first base line.

Morris later scored from second on Harrison’s two-bagger and Erin Cooke’s one-out sacrifice fly scored Harrison for the fourth run of the inning.

After a scoreless second inning by both teams, Pungo got three runs in the top of the third to pull within a run at 4-3.

Back came the Lady Rams with six runs in the bottom of the frame when they sent 11 batters to the plate. The highlight of the inning were three base-on-balls that led to three runs and a throwing error plus a passed ball that led to three more and a 10-3 lead.

Ridgecroft closed out the scoring with four more in the bottom of the fourth without collecting a base hit. Two base-on-balls and a misplayed fielder’s choice loaded the bases before two more walks added two runs and a broken-up double-play and a sacrifice scored another pair.

Morris gave up a two-out triple with one aboard to account for Pungo’s final run before striking out the last batter for Ridgecroft’s 13th win of the year.

“We’d lost to them 20-0 and 14-0 before,” said Pungo coach Melody-Jo Williams, “so for us to even score on Mary-Kate was definitely a plus because she really brings the heat and dominates.”

“We got some of our junk out of us today — I hope,” cautioned Smith before he began the post-game batting practice. “Hopefully we’re still a work in progress.

“We hit a little better,” he said, headed to the rubber to face his batters. “And we’re going to hit a little bit more today.