Prime time matchups highlight second roundPublished 6:50pm Monday, May 13, 2013
It doesn’t get much better than this. The state softball playoffs resume tonight with some second round mega-matchups as Washington takes on the defending 3-A state champs, Southside hosts last year’s 1-A state runners up, Northside battles Four Rivers Conference rival Riverside and South Creek hits the road to face a conference champion.
After rallying past Cleveland 9-6 on Friday in its playoff opener, the No. 2 Pam Pack (18-4, Coastal) will resume its playoff run tonight on the road against a No. 1-seeded C.B. Aycock (14-9, Eastern Carolina) team that edged past No. 4 West Craven 7-6.
The defending 3-A champs are led by dangerous slugger Meredith Burrows, but the Pam Pack has shown it can go run-for-run just about anyone and feels confident heading into tonight’s game.
“We’re hitting about .367 as a team and we’ve got about 12 or 13 home runs and I’m feeling like we can beat anybody,” Washington coach Doug Whitehead said. “I told the girls that they have a special group of hitters this year, a good group of pitchers and we can be very good.”
The Pam Pack showed the strength of its lineup on Friday as it managed to rack up nine runs and 10 hits despite the fact that its No. 3 and four hitters went a combined 0-6.
“Right now what’s impressed me about this group is that we’re getting hits when we need to,” Whitehead said. “On Friday some of our top hitters didn’t necessarily produce like they have in the past but we got great production from our five through eight hitters. We’re not having to depend on our top hitters to do something every ball game.”
After garnering a No. 1 seed in the Four Rivers Conference, Southside’s reward is a second round matchup with its nemesis Camden (12-6), a No. 4 seed that split its regular season matchup with the Seahawks this season.
Southside was able to coast past Jones Senior 10-0 in the first round but Seahawks coach John Lohman said his team must be focused tonight when it hosts last year’s state runners up.
“They’re a good team so we got to show up ready to play,” Lohman said. “If we go out there and not take it seriously and goof around we can get beat, no doubt.”
Lohman said the key for his team tonight will be its ability to put the ball in play against a Camden pitcher with a solid drop-ball.
“The biggest thing really for us will be hitting,” Lohman said. “Camden shouldn’t score a bunch of runs on us but if we go out there and lay an egg on the scoreboard it’s going to be tough to win.”
The Seahawks aren’t the only team playing a Four Rivers Conference rival tonight as No. 2 Northside (15-4) will host No. 5 Riverside (15-6).
The Panthers smoked NCSSM 11-0 in the first round to give them some momentum and tonight they’re hoping it carries over.
“Coming off of a victory is going to help our confidence,” Northside coach Jack Beirne said. “That’s definitely something we needed after losing the last two games of the regular season.”
Northside has played Riverside twice already this season and both games where close as the Panthers won each time by two runs.
“They were both close games. It wasn’t like either one was a walk-away, they were very competitive games and I’m sure this one’s going to be the same,” Beirne said. “Riverside is a very good team and we’re going to have to play our ‘A’ game to beat them.
“… (In order to win) we’re going to have to go out and hit the ball better than we did our last two conference games. We have to maintain our defensive effectiveness and eliminate our errors.”
After a first round in which all six of the Four Rivers Conference playoff teams advanced, No. 3 South Creek will look to be one of the few teams that will make it to the third round, but first the Cougars must get past a No. 1 Franklin Academy team that won the Carolina 12 Conference.
South Creek rolled past Gates County 17-0 in the first and will need another quality outing to advance.