PEMBROKE — With a pitching matchup between two Division I-bound players, it came as no surprise that runs were at a premium in Monday’s softball game between Purnell Swett and visiting Jack Britt.
As both the Rams’ Summer Bullard and the Buccaneers’ Carlie Myrtle pitched well, just a couple of at-bats made the difference as Jack Britt earned a 3-0 win.
Jack Britt (7-3, 7-3 Sandhills Athletic Conference) scored two runs in the first inning on an Alyssa Norton RBI double, with one of those unearned, and added a run on Ashton Fields’ RBI single in the fourth. The Buccanners were otherwise shut down by Bullard, but Purnell Swett (8-2, 8-2 SAC) couldn’t push any runs across against Myrtle.
“All game I kept telling them to cut their swings down, hit the pitches that they can hit, and Carlie just had our number tonight. We didn’t string hits back-to-back; we got a hit here and a hit there,” Purnell Swett coach William Deese said. “Carlie’s an excellent pitcher; she’s one of the best pitchers in the region, if not the state, and she did her job. She had us off-balance, she hit her spots, and kudos to her.”
Bullard, a Charleston Southern commit, allowed just five hits and struck out eight in an outing that included three perfect innings, taking the hard-luck loss to fall to 5-2 on the season.
“Summer gave us everything she had, and it’s disappointing that we didn’t get the run support,” Deese said. “That’s the first game this year we haven’t scored a run. She wasn’t as crisp as she was Friday, but she hit her spots and did her job; we’ve just got to pick it up and do our job with the bats.”
Myrtle, a North Carolina signee, allowed five hits and struck out eight batters in the shutout win.
Chandra Locklear, Chloe Locklear, Torrie Butler, Angelica Locklear and Kara Deese had the Rams’ five hits off Myrtle; all were singles except for Angelica Locklear’s double. The Rams stranded two runners in the first inning and one each in the second, third, fourth and sixth, with the second-inning baserunner reaching third base.
“The rest of this week, that’s something we’re going to work on is cutting our swing down and putting the ball in play. Because the last three games we’ve stranded a bunch of runners,” Deese said. “We’re not going to be successful if we don’t get some of those runs in.”
Norton’s first-inning two-RBI double came after Myrtle singled and Cameran Davan reached on an error. After the run-scoring hit, Bullard retired the next two batters and stranded Norton at third.
Alyssa Brown singled in the fourth inning before scoring on Fields’ RBI hit that made it 3-0. Fields was also stranded at third base.
The Buccaneers’ other big threat came in the fifth when Daylah Johnson and Myrtle drew back-to-back walks, the only two walks allowed by Bullard; the next two batters struck out and grounded out and Bullard escaped the inning.
Despite the loss, Purnell Swett still controls its fate to win the SAC title with two games remaining, as they hold a one-game lead in the loss column over Scotland and Jack Britt. The Rams play Monday at Hoke County and April 28 at Lumberton.
“Get our mind right, focus on what’s important, and we know that we’ve got to do our job next week against Hoke and against Lumberton,” Deese said. “If we go ahead and take care of business in those games, it’s not about anybody else, it’s about us, it’s about the job we’ve got to do; if we take care of Hoke and Lumberton we’re going to stay in first place.”
Chris Stiles can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] You can follow him on Twitter at @StilesOnSports.