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The pairings and the schedules are set for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state fast-pitch softball championships.

The championships are best-of-three series between the Eastern champion and the Western champion, both of whom won best-of-three regional series. From 1995 to 2011, the top four teams in each classification came to Walnut Creek for a double-elimination tournament.

This will mark the 20th annual fast pitch championships and the 40th year for NCHSAA softball. The Raleigh Sports Consortium and the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau are among the host city sponsors.

Friday, June 6: Game 1, 7 p.m.
Saturday, June 7: Game 2, 11 a.m.
Saturday, June 7: Game 3, if necessary, 2 p.m.

all series best of three games

Game 1: Friday, June 6, 8 pm
Game 2: Saturday, June 7, 2 pm
Game 3: if necessary, Saturday, June 7 at 8 pm (5 pm if no third game in 4-A)

It may have taken a while to get started, but the surging Hickory Crawdads offense came up big again Sunday night as the 'Dads scored seven runs from the 6th inning on in a 7-2 win over the Greenville Drive at Fluor Field.

The Crawdads began the game with five promising but ultimately empty innings against starting pitcher Daniel McGrath and the Drive, before coming alive with three runs in the 6th, one in the 7th & 8th, and two more in the 9th. The 'Dads finished the game with 12 hits and eight walks, allowing all nine starters to reach safely while eight of the nine had at least one hit.

Nomar Mazara led the late arriving attack with a 3-5 game including a double, RBI, and run scored, while Joe Jackson finished with his third straight multi-hit game going 2-4, with a double, walk, and run scored. Lewis Brinson (2-4, BB, 2 R) also had a multi-hit night, while Travis Demeritte hit a home run for the third straight game to take over sole possession of the South Atlantic League home run lead with 12 on the season.

The 'Dads had no shortage of base runners during the first five frames, but couldn't come through with the big hit. The Crawdads got runners into scoring position in four of the first five innings, but ultimately left eight men on base. During that time, Greenville was able to put together a 2-0 lead thanks to an unearned run in the 2nd and a RBI double by Jantzen Witte in the 3rd.

That lead held until Hickory finally broke through for three runs in the 6th to take a 3-2 advantage, with Evan Van Hoosier delivering a bases loaded, 2-RBI single to tie the game before Janluis Castro scored on an error for the third run.

The 7th inning tally came on a double by Mazara and a RBI sacrifice fly from Ronald Guzman, while the Crawdads run in the 8th was a result of a RBI single by Mazara to score Jackson for a 5-2 Hickory lead. The 'Dads plated their final two runs in the 9th on a two-run homer to left by Demeritte for the final 7-2 score.

The late innings rally made a winner out of Crawdads starting pitcher Tyler Smith (2-1) who held the Drive to two runs, one earned, on three hits over his five innings pitched. Greenville reliever Myles Smith (1-4) took the loss after giving up four runs, three earned, on five hits during his 2.1 innings. Hickory relievers Anyelo Leclerc and Josh McElwee combined to throw four shutout innings from the bullpen with nine strikeouts.

The victory gives the Crawdads (28-27) the series win over the Drive (27-28) while moving the team above .500 for the first time since May 3rd. The 'Dads have either won or tied their last five consecutive series. The Crawdads will now return home for a 7-game home stand, beginning Monday night with a 7:00 pm first pitch against the Charleston RiverDogs.

Saturday, 31 May 2014 23:27

Hickory Crawdads Roll Over Greenville

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The Hickory Crawdads continued their recent resurgence with another all-around solid game Saturday night, as the 'Dads defeated the hometown Greenville Drive 7-1 at Fluor Field to move their record back to .500 and secure a winning month of May.

The Crawdads record now stands at 27-27 thanks to a 16-15 month that saw the 'Dads lose 6-straight games before recovering down the stretch. Saturday's win once again featured the good hitting that has been a staple of the Hickory turnaround, with the Crawdads scoring seven runs on eight hits, six walks, and only three team strikeouts.

Second baseman Travis Demeritte led the way going 1-3 with a home run, two RBI, and a walk. Demeritte's 8th inning big fly was his 11th of the year, tying him for the South Atlantic League lead with Asheville's Correlle Prime. Third baseman Nick Vickerson reached base safely four times thanks to a single, two walks, and a hit-by-pitch, while catcher Joe Jackson finished the night 2-4 with a double, a RBI, a walk, and a run scored.

The offensive performance backed a solid effort by 'Dads starting pitcher Kelvin Vasquez, who struck out seven while allowing only one unearned run on six hits over his five innings pitched. Crawdads relievers Ricardo Rodriguez and Cody Kendall were effective out of the bullpen as well, with the duo shutting out the Drive over the final four innings.

The Crawdads jumped out to an early advantage in the 1st, when Vickerson was hit by a pitch and later scored on a double to left from Jackson combined with a fielding error by Greenville left fielder Kendrick Perkins for a 1-0 Hickory lead.

That score lasted until the 6th, when the 'Dads plated two more unearned runs for a 3-0 advantage. Jackson walked with one out before Ryan Cordell followed with an infield single to put two men on base. Jackson would eventually score on an error by Drive shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin while Cordell came home on a RBI sacrifice fly to center from Roanld Guzman.

Following the lone run of the game by the Drive in the bottom of the 6th to make the score 3-1, the Crawdads answered with a run in the 7th, two in the 8th, and one last tally in the 9th for the final 7-1 win. The 7th inning run came on a double by Kellin Deglan, a walk to Evan Van Hoosier, and an eventual double steal that saw Van Hoosier take second while Deglan ran home from third. Demeritte provided the offense in the 8th with his 2-run blast over the monster in left, while a Jackson RBI single in the 9th plated Van Hooiser for the game's final run.

Vasquez (3-1) earned the win for the Crawdads for his solid start, while Greenville starter Teddy Stankiewicz (4-3) took the loss after allowing three unearned runs on four hits over his six innings pitched.

The Crawdads have now won two of the first three games in their series against the Drive (27-27), and will go for the series win in the finale on Sunday at 4:05 pm.

The Hickory Crawdads continually found themselves with runners on base with less than two outs Friday night, but more often than not those situations ended in disappointment as the 'Dads hit into four double plays in their 7-6 loss to the Greenville Drive at Fluor Field.

The double play pandemic proved to be a deciding factor in a tight game that saw the 'Dads and Drive tied or within a run of one another for six of the nine innings. Promising innings suddenly ended with twin killings in the 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 7th, with the Crawdads having the tying run at third in both of the latter frames. Hickory avoided the double play in the 9th when the 'Dads scored one run and placed the tying and go ahead runners on base, but the Crawdads rally stopped short when Nomar Mazara grounded out to end the game.

The contest started with solid pitching from South Carolina natives Akeem Bostick of the Crawdads and Jamie Callahan of the Drive. It wasn't until a 4th inning wild pitch by Bostick allowed Jantzen Witte to score for Greenville that the Drive took a 1-0 lead.

The low scoring, well pitched ballgame quickly unraveled in the 5th however, when both teams struck for five-run half innings. The 'Dads sent 10 men to the plate in their half of the frame, with a two run home run by Travis Demeritte and a wild pitch to score Kellin Deglan plating the first three runs. The Crawdads received a huge break later in the inning when Witte dropped what would have been an inning ending popup with the bases loaded, allowing two more runs to score and giving Hickory a 5-1 lead.

Greenville answered right back with their own 5-run 5th, with the Drive using five hits and a walk to chase Bostick from the game and re-take the lead at 6-5. Greenville pushed their advantage to 7-5 in the 7th, taking advantage of four walks and a RBI sacrifice fly against Crawdads reliever Kevin Pucetas to plate the insurance run.

The 'Dads mounted one last rally in the top of the 9th when Greenville native Joe Jackson plated Ryan Cordell on a RBI single to make the score 7-6 and move Evan Van Hoosier to second as the potential tying run, but Mazara's ground out ended the rally and the game for the Crawdads.

Jackson paced the Hickory hitters with a 3-4 game including a triple and a RBI. Demeritte ended the night 2-4 with his 10th homer of the year, while Vickerson walked three times and scored.

Greenville reliever Raynel Velette (4-0) earned the win with 3.1 scoreless innings pitched, while Bostick (2-3) took the loss after giving up six runs on seven hits over his 4.2 frames on the mound. Drive bullpen arm Mike Adams (3) picked up a save despite allowing a run in the 9th.

The 'Dads (26-27) and Drive (27-26) will meet up again Saturday night at 7:05 in game three of the four game series.

Appalachian State University has been selected to host three Sun Belt Conference championships in the upcoming three-year cycle, the conference announced this week. Appalachian State will host the Sun Belt men’s soccer championship in 2015 and the league’s outdoor track and field and softball championships in 2017.

Appalachian State is no stranger to hosting conference championships. Appalachian has hosted the Southern Conference men’s soccer (2011), outdoor track and field (2010) and softball (2012) championships this decade. The SoCon outdoor track and field championships were held at App State’s Kidd Brewer Stadium 12 times.

Appalachian State officially joins the Sun Belt Conference on July 1.

The Hickory Crawdads and hometown Greenville Drive had no problem collecting hits Thursday night with 22 total knocks between them, but a combination of bend-but-don't-break pitching and sterling defense led to a low scoring 4-2 'Dads win in game one of their series from Fluor Field.

The 'Dads were outhit in the game 13-9 but finished with three extra base hits to the Drive's one while also drawing three walks to Greenville's zero. The Hickory hitters plated single runs in four separate innings, while the Crawdads pitching staff contained the Drive offense to two runs in the 4th inning.

The game began with a 22-minute long top of the 1st inning, that eventually saw the 'Dads score a run on a bases loaded walk to Ryan Cordell for a 1-0 lead. While the Crawdads ended the inning with only the lone tally, Greenville starter Trey Ball exited the game early after needing 41 pitches to record only two outs.

Now facing Drive reliever Jacob Dahlstrand, the 'Dads added another single run in the 4th when Travis Demeritte doubled to start the frame and came in two batters later on a RBI groundout by Michael De Leon for a 2-0 advantage.

Greenville quickly tied the game with a pair of runs on four singles in the bottom of the inning for a 2-2 score, but the 'Dads answered right back with another lone run in the 5th to re-take the lead at 3-2. Nick Vickerson led off the frame with an infield single, moved to second on a ground out, then broke for third on a pitch that went between Drive catcher Jake Romanski's legs. Vickerson never stopped running on his steal of third and was able to come all the way home on the wild pitch to score and give the Crawdads the lead.

Hickory plated their last tally in the 6th with another double by Demeritte and a two-out, RBI single from Van Hoosier for the 4-2 final score.

Both teams had several chances to score other runs, only to be cut down by standout defensive plays. The Drive had a bases loaded, one out opportunity in the 5th, but leading hitter Jantzen Witte ground into a nicely turned 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. The Crawdads could have scored three runs in the 5th, but Nomar Mazara was thrown out at home on a great relay from left field while Ronald Guzman had a potential RBI single taken away on a diving stop by Greenville second baseman Wendell Rijo. Hickory turned in two more good defensive plays in the game, with Mazara making a diving catch in right field in the 5th and the team turning a 4-6-3 twin killing in the 8th.

Van Hoosier led the Crawdads offense with a 3-5 night that included a RBI, run scored and stolen base. Demeritte ended the game 2-4 with two doubles and two runs scored, while Cordell finished 1-3 with a double and a RBI.

'Dads reliever Ryne Slack (4-1) earned the win with 3.2 scoreless innings out of the bullpen after Hickory starter Chad Bell exited after 4.1 IP and two runs allowed. Dahlstrand (3-3) was saddled with the loss after giving up three runs on seven hits over his five innings of relief. Crawdads reliever Cody Kendall earned his second save of the season for pitching a scoreless 9th.

The win pushes the Crawdads back to .500 with a 26-26 record, while Greenville falls to 26-26 with the loss. The two teams will meet up again Friday night at 7:05 for game two of the four game series.

2A Western Regional Finals:
Bunker Hill: 8
East Davidson: 1
Bears win the best of three series 2-0. Bunker Hill advances to the state championship series next weekend taking on Midway.

Hickory Crawdads catcher Kevin Torres has been promoted to the High-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans, becoming the second 'Dad this season to move up in the Texas Rangers organization.

Replacing Torres on the Crawdads active roster is OF Lewis Brinson, who has been on the disabled list since May 3rd. Brinson, 20, was batting .287 with three home runs, 11 RBI, and four stolen bases at the time of his injury.

Torres, 24, hit .215 with three homers, three doubles, and 9 RBI while catching and spending time at first base for the Crawdads this season. The Puerto Rico native has spent parts of the last three seasons in Hickory, hitting a cumulative .237 with five home runs and 42 RBI.

Torres joins former Crawdad Abel De Los Santos on the Pelicans roster. The right-handed reliever was sent to Myrtle Beach on May 3rd as part of a four-player transaction that also sent Brinson to the DL.

Softball 4A Western Regional Finals:
Alexaner Central: 4
North Davidson: 2
Cougars win the best of three series, 2-0. Alexander Central advances to the state championship facing either Cape Fear or Middle Creek next weekend.