Thomas Hodge knew there was something unusual about the snarling fox that continued to charge him.

"I knew when it started coming towards me, something wasn't right, when it kept coming back," he said. "Foxes don't just come at ya, especially after you kick it a few times."

During a weekend church softball tournament, the grayish-red fox eluded animal control officers for seven hours, biting three people before charging at Hodge. The fox bit Hodge's shin, leaving teeth marks and drawing blood before Hodge finally stomped the animal to death.

Authorities have confirmed the fox was rabid. Its three victims were not seriously injured and have started rabies treatment. Rabies attacks the nervous system, alters brain functions and can lead to death if untreated.

The first attack Saturday at the Walnut Creek Park Softball Complex in south Raleigh came when the fox bit Dwayne Kroeze, 34, while he was walking to his next game.

Kroeze said the fox grazed his ankle and its tooth got stuck on his sock before he pinned the snarling animal to the ground with his legs and flung it by its neck. He said the fox growled for a few minutes then darted back into the woods.

After he reported the attack, animal control officers set traps for the fox.

Three hours later, it went after 61-year-old Cornelia Clayton as she walked toward a softball field with her pregnant daughter-in-law on a paved walkway.

"He darted out of the shrubs; I did not see him," Clayton said. "He bit me on the calf of my leg. He just went by me real fast and just bit and took off."

Authorities say they are keeping a close watch on the softball complex.

"There's no evidence there's another rabid animal out there right now," said Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue. "Just because there was one doesn't mean there's necessarily another one."