Bass keys Lady Hawks’ ‘signature win’

By DONNELL COLEY
Sports editor
Posted 4/1/22

Breaking down the success behind Triton softball's eight-game win streak following Wednesday's payback victory over Midway.

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Bass keys Lady Hawks’ ‘signature win’

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ERWIN — Just moments after clinching the team’s marquee victory of the season Wednesday, Aubree Bass stood on the Triton softball field with a rake in her hand.

The sophomore ace had just pitched the game of her life — a 10-strikeout gem to beat Midway, 1-0 — but she was just as focused on helping fulfill the club’s customary maintenance duties.

It’s the type of collective commitment that she feels reversed a March 4 loss in Spivey’s Corner and has been key during the current eight-game win streak.

“The little things add up. It’s a team sport and you can’t get down on your teammates, you have to have complete trust in your team,” Bass said after giving up just two hits and two walks through seven innings.

“We were really hype. We just had to have confidence and I think we did.”

Triton (9-3, 8-0 AAC) has overcome a rough start to the 2022 campaign that began with three losses through the first four games, all to opponents outside of the All American Conference.

The club is undefeated in league play so far, but according to Lady Hawks coach Mark Whitman, it still wanted to make a nonconference statement against an equally-talented Midway (6-3) squad.

“We needed this win at home tonight and it was a big signature win,” he said.

“Aubree was lights out tonight. ... It was probably the best game she’s ever pitched in her career, honestly, at this level.”

As a freshman, Bass held a backup pitching role to former all-state performer Gracyn Slaughter, who notched a team-leading 6-1 record from the circle for last year’s 10-3 group. But the hard-hurling righty looked comfortable in the lead position Wednesday, working her way out of trouble with clutch strikeouts on multiple occasions.

“It felt good. ... working in the bullpen and stuff the past few weeks, it was definitely a focus — it was definitely on my mind,” Bass said of the 6-2 loss at Midway earlier in the month.

“I hope I can pitch that good the rest of the season.”

She added that her second complete-game shutout hasn’t come without the attention to detail of the other eight Lady Hawks defenders. The team has only given up just six runs during the season-long spurt.

Offensively, the team has had its ups and downs so far, having to replace the club’s leading hitter Kaila Cooney who was another all-state player that also claimed All-Record Offensive Player of the Year.   

“We’re a good team. Yeah, we lost Gracyn and Kaila ... but we’ve got girls that have stepped in there and kind of filled their shoes a little bit,” he said.

Bass is doing her part at the plate to help fill the voids, sporting a .545 average with a team-leading 22 RBIs. Fellow sophomore Takyra McLean, the Lady Hawks’ third all-state selection last season, is adjusting to a new spot in the lineup and had the club’s only RBI on Wednesday. And Gracie Byrd, who had one of Triton’s three hits against Midway, boasts a team-high .556 average and 20 hits.    

“We didn’t hit the ball well but I told them, ‘Just make the routine plays, cause a little chaos ... ,’” Whitman said. 

“We’ve got speed in our top four batters, we’re pretty fast up top. And if they can get on, we can wreak havoc on a lot of teams playing small ball.”

After claiming the program’s first conference championship title since 2015, Whitman is preaching the one-game-at-a-time approach in hopes of a repeat effort. The only other unbeaten team in AAC play to this point is in-county rival Harnett Central, with both teams having their fair share of work left until they meet for a two-game series to finish the season starting April 26.

“We hold our own destiny. We can’t drop an egg,” Whitman said. “We’re gonna truck along, play the best we can play and hopefully things work out for us.”

Bass is in line with the veteran coach and thinks Wednesday’s impressive win is a step in the right direction.

“I definitely think it brought our confidence up. I think as long as we keep working hard in practice and don’t get big-headed, I think we’re gonna be good for the rest of the season.”

Triton returns to its home field Tuesday against AAC foe Pine Forest.

Donnell Coley can be reached at dcoley@mydailyrecord.com or 910-230-2040.

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