No-hitter, hitting propel Purnell Swett over Pine Forest in 1st round

Rams top Pine Forest, advance to 2nd round

Chris Stiles Sports editor


			
				                                 Chris Stiles | The Robesonian Purnell Swett’s Nyla Mitchell swings at a pitch during Monday’s first-round 4A playoff game against Pine Forest in Pembroke.
                                 Chris Stiles | The Robesonian Purnell Swett’s Nyla Mitchell swings at a pitch during Monday’s first-round 4A playoff game against Pine Forest in Pembroke.

Chris Stiles | The Robesonian Purnell Swett’s Nyla Mitchell swings at a pitch during Monday’s first-round 4A playoff game against Pine Forest in Pembroke.

Chris Stiles | The Robesonian Purnell Swett’s Nyla Mitchell swings at a pitch during Monday’s first-round 4A playoff game against Pine Forest in Pembroke.

<p> Chris Stiles | The Robesonian Purnell Swett’s Summer Bullard delivers a pitch during Monday’s first-round 4A playoff game against Pine Forest in Pembroke.</p>
                                <p> Chris Stiles | The Robesonian Purnell Swett’s Summer Bullard delivers a pitch during Monday’s first-round 4A playoff game against Pine Forest in Pembroke.</p>

Chris Stiles | The Robesonian Purnell Swett’s Summer Bullard delivers a pitch during Monday’s first-round 4A playoff game against Pine Forest in Pembroke.

Chris Stiles | The Robesonian Purnell Swett’s Summer Bullard delivers a pitch during Monday’s first-round 4A playoff game against Pine Forest in Pembroke.

PEMBROKE — The way Summer Bullard and Chandra Locklear pitched for Purnell Swett Monday, the Rams only needed one run to beat Pine Forest.

They had that run before anyone was out in the bottom of the first — then scored quite a few more.

Three innings of three-plus runs were more than enough for the Rams as Bullard and Locklear combined to no-hit the Trojans over five innings an a 12-0 win in the first round of the 4A state playoffs.

“They’ve been consistent all year,” Purnell Swett coach William Deese said. “Summer’s thrown the ball well, just a mistake on location of a pitch every now and then will break up a no-hitter. She’s had a no-hitter going through four innings a couple of times. It’s special to watch them. They both hit their spots, they both threw the ball well, and even when they put the ball in play we made a defensive play behind them. It’s big for us going into the second round.”

The only batter to reach base for Pine Forest (5-3) came on a first-inning error. Bullard struck out eight of the 10 batters she faced over the first three innings, then Locklear struck out three over the final two innings.

“It’s great; it’s a great feeling to do it with my best friend (Locklear) here,” Bullard said. “We put in a lot of hard work, and it’s good to see it pay off.”

The offensive outburst by the Rams (11-2) made it easier on Bullard and Locklear in the circle. The Rams scored four runs in the first inning, one in the second, four in the third and three in the fourth, totaling 11 hits in their four turns at bat.

“It’s really easy on us,” Bullard said. “The other night (against) Lumberton we was down 3-0 the last inning, that’s kind of pressure on the pitcher, but this time we didn’t have any pressure, so that’s good for us.”

“That’s been one of the issues that I’ve been pushing with our offense,” Deese said. “I told them, Summer’s been busting her butt all year long; Chan, the time’s she’s pitched, she gives you everything, and they just haven’t had the run support. It makes it easier and you’re lot more comfortable and able to do the things you’re supposed to when you know your teammates are going to give you the runs. And when they do give you the runs, you can just go out there and do your best.”

Marijo Wilkes singled to start the game, stole second, and scored on an error. Chandra Locklear and Chloe Locklear both reached on errors and Chandra Locklear scored on a Torrie Butler double before Chloe Locklear scored on Kaitlyn Locklear’s sacrifice fly. Angelica Locklear singled to plate Butler and it was 4-0 Rams.

Nyla Mitchell scored on a wild pitch in the second inning for a 5-0 lead; Kaitlyn Locklear homered to lead off the third for a 6-0 advantage. Bella Finelli scored on a passed ball and Mitchell on an error before a Chandra Locklear RBI single plated Wilkes to make it 9-0 after three innings.

Georgia Locklear had two RBIs on a fourth-inning triple, then scored on a wild pitch to make it a 12-0 game.

Kaitlyn Locklear, Angelica Locklear and Mitchell had two hits each; Wilkes, Mitchell and Kaitlyn Locklear each had two runs and Kaitlyn Locklear had two RBIs.

“Everybody’s contributed all year, and that’s the one thing I’ve taught them; if one person’s not doing their job, somebody’s got to step up, somebody’s got to carry them, somebody’s got to do the things that the other one didn’t do,” Deese said. “Right now — and I was glad to see it, because we’ve struggled, we haven’t scored 12 runs in a while — to come in in the first playoff game and score 12 runs, I just hope we can continue to push the runs across.

“We’ve left a bunch of runners on (recently); it’s good knowing that we’re starting to gel, we’re starting to come alive at the right time.”

The no-hitter was Bullard’s first of the season, though she’s thrown one previously. Chandra Locklear threw a five-inning no-hitter on March 22; her role in Monday’s combined no-hitter came in her second pitching appearance since her severe allergic reaction and near-death experience on April 11.

“It just feels good to be here,” she said.

“Confidence-wise, it means a lot,” Deese said. “She’s not an emotional kid; she stays focused. With her getting the tail end of the no-hitter, it’s going to be big for us, because when I bring her in, that confidence is going to be there for her to do what I need her to do.”

The Rams will host either Wake Forest or Apex Friendship in the second round on Wednesday; the game between those two teams Monday was postponed due to inclement weather.

“We have high hopes for it,” Bullard said, “and we believe that we’re going to win, and everybody around us believes that we’re going to win, and this atmosphere, I believe we’re going to win right here at home and advance to the third round.”

Chris Stiles can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] You can follow him on Twitter at @StilesOnSports.