March madnessPublished 5:11pm Thursday, March 28, 2013
It’s the time of year when softball emulates basketball as several tournaments will take place over the holiday weekend with teams looking to break the monotony of conference play and take advantage of one last opportunity to tweak lineups and evaluate depth.
Once again, Northside will host its annual Easter tournament and this year’s group includes Bear Grass Charter, Pamlico, North Pitt, Plymouth and reigning tourney champs South Creek.
Though some matchups will pit conference foes against one another, the tourney does not count toward team’s conference records.
The two-day tournament not only serves as fundraiser for Northside but also helps keep the Panthers and their competitors from getting rusty during Easter vacation.
“The proceeds from it help the program,” Northside coach Jack Beirne said. “But, it also keeps us a little sharp over our Easter break. We get to play some games that we would not have had if we played by a standard schedule.”
The tournament will swing into action bright and early Saturday morning as Northside will clash with Bear Grass at 9 a.m. and will be the first of six straight games. Food and drinks will be available via concession stand and the admission is $5. The tourney will resume again on Monday at 10 a.m.
While the Panthers will get to play at home on Sunday and Monday, the Washington softball team will take a road trip during the Easter break as the Pam Pack will compete in the D.H. Conley Easter tournament.
Washington will begin the tourney at 9 a.m. Saturday morning when it squares off against New Bern and then will be back on the diamond at 1 p.m. to take on Bertie. The Pam Pack will resume play on Monday at 11 a.m. against Southwest Edgecombe.
The tournament is splintered into divisions and the Pam Pack is hoping to repeat last year’s undefeated effort.
“The tournament gives us a chance to play three nonconference opponents that we usually have not seen before,” Washington coach Doug Whitehead said. “We also get to chance to win our division title.”
The tourney also offers Whitehead an opportunity to further evaluate his roster.
“This tournament gives us a chance to use players at different positions and will prepare us for conference play after the break,” Whitehead said. “Playing is always better than practicing to me.”
Beirne agreed and said that the tourney will allow him to go deep into his bench and give backups a chance to shine.
“It gives us a chance to move some players around a little bit,” Beirne said. “We’re playing two games back-to-back so we’re going to have to work a few more pitchers in and look at some girls at some different positions.”
While Northside and Washington will be in action, Southside has taken the opposite approach. Seahawks coach John Lohman has a veteran team and is hoping that a little extra time off may pay off down the road.
“Every year we’ve gone to a tournament and have played well. I think we have swept the last three years and we have played some pretty good teams,” Lohman said. “I think that without having a break and pushing real hard during the tournament you just get tired, mentally not physically.
“So I decided this year we are going to take the year off and go on vacation and get sun burned and then we will pick it back up when they come back to school.”