Feb. 10, 2011
FAYETTEVILLE, NC - Down two key starters, the Fayetteville State Lady Broncos had but one command from head coach Miguel Justiniano.
Everybody step up and win as a team.
The Lady Broncos did just that. Twice.
Whether it was Misty Huber (Jr., Orlando, FL) grinding through seven more innings in earning the win of the second leg of the doubleheader, or Quristeen Brown (Fr., Greensboro, NC) belting out more extra base hits and fielding a superb shortstop, or center fielder Jessica Randolph making the play of the day near the wall to quell a scoring rally, the Lady Broncos had a hand from all parts of the lineup in picking up 4-2 and 4-3 wins over Salem International on Thursday.
"We talked about it before the game, that without two key players," everybody had to raise their games a little bit," said Justiniano, better known as "Coach Who." "We definitely did that, and we won because of it."
Huber (2-1) worked both ends of the doubleheader, allowing just two earned runs over the course of 14 innings. She allowed just three hits and struck out nine in a dominating performance in the first game before gutting out an eight-hit, seven-strikeout win in the nightcap. Huber held the Lady Tigers (0-2) to 0-for-11 batting with runners in scoring position in the first game - both runs scored as a result of errors - and then worked out of jams in the second game as the Lady Broncos (2-2) were able to hold onto a 4-0 lead for the victory.
"Misty did a great job," said Coach Who, whose Broncos were without ill April Branch
(Sr., Watha, NC) and Olivia Peavy (So, Siler City, NC). "It was a tremendous performance."
But Huber had help, too. Brown continued her torrid start to her collegiate career, finishing the day 3-for-5 with a triple and two more doubles and three RBI. She's now 7-for-11 on the season. But it was her steady play at shortstop that also shined brightly.
So did Randolph, who limited a potential big inning in Game 2 when she made a terrific over-the-shoulder basket catch deep in center field to rob Haley Wilson of extra bases and Salem International of at least two more runs in the fifth inning. Huber got out of the frame allowing just one run, and Fayetteville State was able to keep a 4-3 lead entering the final innings.
"We pride ourselves on being very strong defensively up the middle of the field," said Coach Who. "We got great efforts there today."
The Lady Broncos trailed 1-0 after the top of the first inning of Game 1 until Brown laced a run-scoring triple to deep left field to score LaTonia Gatling (Jr., Suffolk, VA) and tie the game at 1.
That's how the game remained until Salem International was able to push across and unearned run in the top of the sixth. But the Lady Broncos rallied, with Gatling leading the inning off with a walk and Damarius Pankey (Sr., Laurinburg, NC) following with a single. With runners on first and second and one out, Brown smacked an RBI double to score Gatling and tie the game again. Randolph then, perhaps previewing her Game 2 defensive heroics, ripped a double to deep left center field, plating two more runs to give Fayetteville State its first lead of the season.
Huber made the comeback stand up by retiring the side in order in the seventh.
Fayetteville State struck first in the second game, getting a run when center fielder Haley Nelson misplayed a fly ball. The Broncos took a 4-0 lead in the third inning after an error scored a run, Brown lofted a sacrifice fly and Clara Davis (Fr., Naples, Italy) lined a run-scoring single.
Salem International got back into the game with two runs in the fourth and another in the fifth before Randolph and Huber combined to silence the threat.
Gatling had two hits in the second game, as did Randolph, who finished the day 3-for-6 with three RBI.
Katie Mangold, who allowed just one earned run in the Game 2 loss, struck out six while scattering eight hits. Lise Couturier gave up four runs - all earned - on eight hits while striking out seven in Game 1.
Fayetteville State returns to varsity action at home against Concorn on Feb. 19. Gametimes are scheduled for 2 and 4 p.m.