Two of a kindPublished 6:45pm Tuesday, May 28, 2013
ROBERSONVILLE — The scene was all smiles. When South Creek recorded the final out during its sweep of Heide Trask in the East Regional Championship Series on Friday the elation was evident to all those who bore witness.
With the win, the Cougars (22-4, Four Rivers) will look to add another chapter to its storied season when it faces West Wilkes in the NCHSAA 1-A state championship this Friday at Walnut Creek (23-3, Mountain Valley).
Whether or not South Creek’s season ends in storybook fashion is yet to be determined. However, without the selflessness displayed by Lauren Sitterson and Taylor Moore this year could have gone from Disney to Stephen King quicker than one of their fastballs reach home plate.
In the world of high school softball where such a heavy emphasis is placed on the starting pitcher, egos can collide and jealousy can threaten the chemistry of a locker room. However, the two aces have fully bought into the team concept and as a result that team is playing for a state title.
“The one thing we’ve stressed since the first day is the concept of being a true team,” South Creek coach Patrick Herring said. “I’m not unrealistic. I know some of them won’t be best friends outside the softball field, but I told them we need to have each other’s back on the field and whatever kind of drama you have going on off the field needs to be put behind you. … And we really haven’t had to deal with too much of that and that’s been a huge difference for us.”
Moore, a senior, and Sitterson, a junior, have led the Cougars to a 22-4 record this year and have combined to pitch shutouts in three of the team’s six postseason games.
Both are competitors and no doubt would love to start in the circle every time the Cougars take the diamond, but the duo has set aside their personal good for the betterment of the team.
“There’s times where you think you have a game and she’s pitching or she thinks she has a game and I’m pitching, but to be honest we both come in ready to pitch,” Moore said. “I’m going to have her back and she’s going to have mine.”
Herring has divvied up the duo’s starts nearly 50-50 this season and said the girls have been extremely cooperative.
“We’ve been on an alternating rotation. Sometimes pitchers will be unhappy if they’re not getting a majority of the starts but both of them have really bought into the system and it’s really working out well for us,” Herring said.
The arrangement works because both pitchers have a healthy respect for one another as players and people.
“Taylor is honestly my better half,” Sitterson said. “I know when I’m off she’s on and when she’s off I’m on. We’re just a great combo together. We love each other like sisters.”
Both Moore and Sitterson are armed with high-speed fastballs but differ in their secondary pitches.
“She has a better drop ball,” Sitterson said.
“She has a better curveball,” added Moore.
When both pitchers are used in the same game the Cougars have the ability to greatly distort an opposing lineup’s sense of the strike zone.
“That’s one of the things we’re able to do here,” Herring said. “We can keep batters on their toes. As soon as they feel like they’re getting comfortable with one pitcher I can bring in another pitcher and they’re not able to adjust. It really keeps them on their toes. You will see them hit little dribblers down to third base or back to the pitcher.”
With a state championship within reach, the key for the Cougars will continue to lie in their pitching and defense.
“We need our pitchers to be on and our outfield and infield need to keep backing them up,” Herring said. “If you make the routine plays you can go far. If you make the great plays than that’s just gravy.”