New Bern pitcher Mary Lyons was strong in holding the Havelock offense down all night — until the sixth inning.
The Rams rallied for four runs in the top of the sixth, and relief pitcher Taylor Forehand silenced the Bear bats in the seventh as Havelock won 6-3 Thursday night.
Havelock had two runners on and one out when Emily Bowman delivered a hard-hit grounder that seemed destined for right field. However, when runner Brittany Craig took off from first, the ball skipped up and connected with Craig’s leg, signifying the second out of the inning.
Lindsey Niemietz singled to load the bases, and Havelock catcher Laniesha Nolan was due up, but had to exit the game after the third inning due to injury. Emily Clayborn, Nolan’s replacement, was up to take her first cuts of the season. Clayborn was plunked by Lyons, allowing Mercedes Hargett to score and tie the game, 3-3.
Cue freshman Samantha Howell. Howell toed the plate and smashed a line shot to right-center field, bringing in two runs to give the Rams their first lead since the first inning.
“I was just going up there and trying not to strike out,” said Howell, who also singled and scored in the first inning. “I just knew I had to get the ball in play however I could.
“Once I hit it, I knew at least one run would score. So many emotions and things were going through my mind.”
Havelock tacked on an insurance run on an RBI single from Malorie Rowe before Forehand retired three straight Bears in the top of the seventh, getting the victory in relief of starter Hargett.
“We caught some breaks tonight,” Havelock coach Anna Spear sighed. “We almost didn’t with that interference, and that could have come back to kill us, but Clayborn worked the count and got hit, then Howell got her big hit. She is one of those players that you look forward to having in your program for four years.”
Lyons was also the main producer for the Bears at the plate, going 1-for-2 with two RBIs.
“Last time against them (Havelock), we struck out 12 times, tonight only once,” New Bern coach Sara Harrison said. “We talked about making contact better and I’m glad that we did that. The girls kept communicating and stayed behind Mary (Lyons), we just didn’t get out of that sixth inning soon enough.”
Havelock improves to 3-1 on the season and will travel to White Oak today, while New Bern falls to 4-3.