April 6, 2011
FAYETTEVILLE, NC - Olivia Peavey was brilliant.
Misty Huber was even better.
While the Fayetteville State Lady Broncos had to settle for a split in its doubleheader Wednesday against St. Augustine's, their pitching was good enough to beat anybody in the CIAA, with Huber hurling her first career no-hitter and Peavey allowing just one hit while fanning a career-high 17.
Huber's no-no came in a huge spot for Fayetteville State (14-25, 7-4, 3-1), which lost 1-0 despite Peavey's sterling effort in the first game of the double-dip. Huber was the beneficiary of the Lady Broncos' bats finally coming alive after a 12-day layoff as FSU cruised to an 8-0 victory in six innings.
But Huber (Jr., Orlando, FL) needed no more help than the Broncos gave her in the first inning when they struck for two unearned runs. Huber calmly worked through the St. Augustine's (3-23, 3-11) lineup, and did not allow runner to reach second base until the sixth inning. She struck out six and walked only two to help Fayetteville State to its third win in its last four games.
Huber (5-12) did get some help from her defense. Center fielder Quuristeen Brown (Fr., Greensboro, NC) made a dazzling diving shoestring catch to rob Ronshonda Henderson on what appeared to be a sure hit to lead off the sixth. Immediately following that play, Brown made a nifty running backhanded grab in right center field to retire Ramadana Simmons.
What was never in doubt was that the Broncos were going to win Game 2. April Branch (Sr., Watha, NC) blasted a two-run home run in a four-run fourth inning as the Broncos built a 7-0 lead before LaTonia Gatling (Jr., Suffolk, VA) belted a solo shot down the right field line in the sixth to end the game by the mercy rule. Gatling had two hits, scored three runs and drove in two runs in the game.
The Lady Broncos, whose doubleheader at Livingstone last week was washed out by rain, struggled at the plate in the first game against St. Augustine's pitcher Michelle Shackleford (3-19), who won her third straight game with the victory.
But the Falcons had their own share of struggles at the dish against Peavey (9-10), who rewrote the definition of a tough loss. Like Huber, Peavey was virtually unhittable, refusing a base hit until JaNia Jones led off the sixth with a sharp single up the middle. Jones eventually came around to score, sliding in safely ahead of catcher Huber's tag on Shackleford's fielder's choice.
Peavey's 17 strikeouts - she fanned the side four times - are the most of any Fayetteville State pitcher in Miguel "Coach Who" Justiniano's four seasons as the Broncos' head coach, and the most in recent memory in the history of the program.
The Broncos had several chances to score, and had a runner thrown out at the plate trying to score on a ground ball. Fayetteville State was 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position for the game and stranded 10 runners on base. The Broncos loaded the bases twice, including in the sixth inning, and had runners on first and second in the bottom of the seventh, but were never able to push a run across.
Peavey and Ashley Wlezen (So., Charlotte, NC) had two hits apiece in the game.
At this point in the season, though, the Fayetteville State Lady Broncos are not concerned so much about what their overall record is.
Right now, it's about getting the team to a point where it is peaking for the CIAA Tournament in two weeks.
If Wednesday is any indication, the pitching is ready.