March 12, 2011
RALEIGH, NC - The Fayetteville State Lady Broncos did not come home from a spring break tournament with a victory. But they may have returned with something much more valuable.
After a week enduring adversity against high-caliber opposition at the Rebel Games in Kissimmee, FL, the Lady Broncos returned to CIAA action Saturday on the first day of the league roundup at the Walnut Creek Softball Complex in Raleigh.
And they came back with a vengeance.
Fayetteville State (8-15, 2-1) bounced back with two victories in three games on Saturday, clipping Virginia State 4-3 in a gutsy victory and then rallying past Elizabeth City State with an offensive explosion to win 17-9 in six innings in the nightcap.
"I thought our trip helped us a lot today," said Lady Broncos coach Miguel Justiniano, better known as "Coach Who." "Knowing that we have played some of the best teams in the country, and that we did some good things against them, we knew that if we kept hungry and kept fighting, that we could come back. And we did."
The Lady Broncos trailed Elizabeth City State (4-2, 4-2) 6-0 after the first inning, and coming off a 13-1 defeat to Chowan (12-10, 2-1), few could blame the Lady Broncos if they started the "Oh no, here we go again" worries.
But Demarius Pankey
Sr., Laurinburg, NC) blasted a home run in a 3-run inning to spark Fayetteville State, which then put together its most impressing inning of the season - a 10-run fourth inning that included an April Branch
(Sr., Watha, NC) home run.
"A hit here and there, a batter reaching after strike three got away from the catcher - it really were little things that got us going," said Coach Who. "It's incredible how it goes sometimes."
Tiffany Locklear (Fr., Maxton, NC) was 5-for-5 in the game with an RBI while Misty Huber (Jr., Orlando, FL), who earned the win with six complete innings of effective relief, and Branch each had a pair of hits in the game.
It was a far different contest than the Lady Broncos' first game of the day.
Against Virginia State, runs were hard to come by - unless you got the ball into the air. With a stiff wind blowing out to straightaway left field, there were five home runs in a game that featured just seven runs. Olivia Peavey (So., Siler City, NC), who picked up the win after fanning eight in the complete-game effort, belted a homer, as did Locklear.
But it was Maya Washington's (Jr., Red Springs, NC) solo blast with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning that proved to be the game-winner.
And in the end, despite a loss to Chowan in the middle of the day, Coach Who and the Lady Broncos were pleased with the events of the day.
"If you had told me before the day started that we would finish 2-1, I would've been happy with that, especially with the way we played in Florida," said Coach Who.
Fayetteville State will play three more times on Sunday, with games at 10 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. The roundup will conclude with 9 a.m. games on Monday. The roundup's first day was postponed after the fields were deemed unplayable after heavy rain soaked the Raleigh area on Thursday.