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Simmons, Lady Bruins cruise past Aces

Camden 14 John A. Holmes 4

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L-r: Camden's Nicole Villardi, Hailey Buntung and Carleigh Simmons hit home runs against Edenton-John A. Holmes in Camden's 14-4 win Friday.

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By David Gough
Sports Writer

Sunday, March 24, 2019

EDENTON — Another game, another day being on the right side of a blowout for Camden softball on Friday night.

The Lady Bruins beat John A. Holmes 14-4 in five innings for an Albemarle Athletic Conference win. Camden (9-0, 2-0 AAC) has won by 10 or more runs in each game it has played this season.

It comes just three days after Camden beat the Lady Aces (3-5, 0-2 AAC) in the first game between the two teams by a score of 17-0.

Offensively, the Lady Bruins have been dominant this season and they got off to a hot start Friday.

Camden, which played as the home team in Edenton since field conditions in Camden weren’t ideal, launched three home runs in the top of the first inning.

After freshman Kamryn Nash bunted for a single to lead off and junior Brianna Bratton walked for the first of four times, sophomore Carleigh Simmons hit a three-run home run.

Junior Nicole Villardi went back-to-back with Simmons as she hit a solo shot to left before the first out of the game was recorded.

Two batters later, junior Hailey Bunting knocked one over the fence for an early 5-0 lead.

“That (start) gives you a lot of momentum and takes a lot of steam out of the other team quickly, too. I was glad to see it,” Camden coach Charles Nash said.

The Lady Bruins didn’t stop there.

Villardi and sophomore Taniya Swinson each had two-run singles in the second and third innings, respectively, as Camden led 10-1 after three innings.

Everyone in the lineup, aside from Bratton who walked each time she came up, tallied at least one hit in the win.

“That’s always a good thing to have,” Nash said. “It seems that, right now, everybody is swinging the bat well. It doesn’t really matter where we start off the next inning, we’re still in pretty good shape.”

The Lady Bruins are especially in good shape when runners are on the bases and Simmons, the team’s third hitter in the lineup, comes up to the plate.

On Friday, the sophomore went 2-for-3 and led Camden with four RBI. In addition to her three-run homer, Simmons had a triple that ended up scoring two runs in the fifth inning to extend the lead to 13-4.

“When (Simmons) gets the ball in play, there’s a pretty good chance we’re going to score runs,” Nash said. “It’s like she has a knack for being able to get RBI. She might struggle with nobody on, but with bases loaded or couple runners on, she’ll get that hit.”

Simmons now has 27 RBI through nine games.

Villardi, who went 2-for-4 with three RBI, knocked Simmons in on a deep fly ball to left that ended in an error. Simmons’ run was the game-ending score for a mercy rule.

Swinson went 3-for-3 as the ninth hitter in the lineup, finishing with two runs scored and two RBI.

Pitching for Camden was freshman Sam Smith. She pitched all five innings in her first high school start.

Smith allowed seven hits, walked two and struck out two.

She didn’t face a ton of trouble in the first four innings, other than John A. Holmes junior Jaycee Pierce singling to score junior Kristen Williams in the second inning for the Lady Aces’ first run.

The fifth inning was Smith’s diciest as she allowed three runs, two coming from a Williams double with two outs. Smith struck out senior Brianna Griffin immediately after to get out of the inning.

It wasn’t initially coach Nash’s intention to have her go from start to finish, but he decided otherwise with how well things were going.

“We were rolling along and I wanted to let her roll the whole game and see how she pitches,” Nash said. “I wanted to see how she reacted when she did get hit a little bit and she handled it well.”

Williams’ RBI double was the John A. Holmes’ only extra-base hit of the game. She and junior Jhasi Gilliam each led the Lady Aces with two hits.

John A. Holmes coach J.P. Pippins said he was encouraged to see the Lady Aces rally for a few runs after being shut out in Tuesday’s loss to Camden, but it wasn’t nearly enough to keep up with the Lady Bruins.

“(Camden has) good pitching, they hit the ball well and play good defense,” Pippins said. “We just didn’t hit. Had runners in position to score and just didn’t come through when we needed to.”

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