Small ball, big resultsPublished 6:05pm Saturday, May 18, 2013
Small ball. Big results. The Pam Pack softball team was able to mix timely hits with well-placed bunts to push itself past West Brunswick 5-2 in the third round of the NCHSAA 3-A state playoffs on Friday.
With the win, No. 2 Washington (20-4) advances to the fourth round where it will host Coastal Conference rival No. 3 D.H. Conley (19-5), who held off a furious South Central rally to stun the No.1 Falcons 9-8 in extra innings.
Pam Pack pitcher Rebekah Langston got the win, pitching four innings of scoreless ball before reentering the game in the sixth to save the lead. Overall, Langston pitched 5 2/3 innings and allowed two hits while striking out five and walking two to down the No. 1-seeded Trojans (16-7, Waccamaw).
Washington made its departure for West Brunswick in grand style as teachers and students waved goodbye to the team bus as it embarked on its four-plus hour trek to West Brunswick.
The sendoff no doubt provided inspiration, and combined it with a late scouting report that informed Washington coach Doug Whitehead that the Trojans infield is susceptible to bunts, the Pack arrived feeling confident and prepared.
That knowledge would come in handy as bunts led to two crucial runs for Washington and paved the way for others.
“It was a great thing. We talked about it and practiced it a lot going into the game,” Whitehead said. “We got a little late tip that (West Brunswick) had a little bit of a weakness on the right side and we were able to take advantage of it.”
Washington took a 1-0 lead in the first when Allison Brantley led off with a double and moved over to third on a sacrifice bunt before Anna Hardison bunted her home with a dribbler that forced the Trojans catcher to abandon home plate and enabled Brantley to score.
The Pam Pack struck with similar style in the fourth as it rallied for four runs. With the bases loaded, Kaylee Jackson pushed a bunt down the right side that created chaos for the West Brunswick infield and allowed Juystce McKissick to score, while the hustling Jackson made it safely to first.
“Our entire intention with that bunt was to sacrifice,” Whitehead said. “But when she put it down her placement couldn’t be any better. She just put it right in no man’s land.”
After that, Cat Staton broke West Brunswick’s back with bloop single to left that plated two runs and upped the Pack’s lead 4-0.
“Cat is one of those quite leaders on the team,” Whitehead said. “She doesn’t have a whole bunch to say but she comes in and does what she’s asked to do. We tried to get a bunt down with her but she ended up with a big hit over third.”
Washington scored its final run of the inning on a Brantley fielder’s choice.
With a 5-0 lead at the start of the fifth, Haley Hutchins came on in relief of Langston an allowed a run before getting out of the inning. Hutchins would pitch a third of an inning in the sixth and allowed another run before Whitehead made the move to bring back Langston.
Washington 001 400 0 — 5 8
West Brunswick 000 011 0 — 2 5
WP: Rebekah Langston
Hitting: WHS — Anna Hardison 1-3, Haley Hutchins 1-4 (2B), Justyce McKissick 2-3 (1R), Haley Wright 1-3 (1R), Kaylee Jackson 1-3 (RBI), Cat Staton 1-2 (2 RBI), Allison Brantley 1-3 (2B, RBI, R).