Northside rollsPublished 1:10pm Saturday, May 17, 2014
By DAVID CUCCHIARA
Washington Daily News
PINETOWN — Class 1-A’s No. 1 team took another step towards a state title on Friday, knocking off Rosewood in the second round of the playoffs, 18-2.
Having activated the mercy rule in each of its last six contests, Northside continued to ride a red-hot offense, backed by the consistent right arm of junior Kelsey Lang. Rosewood, a team battling through late-season injuries, entered the fourth-place finisher in the highly competitive Carolina Conference with a 10-6 record.
Despite a formidable opponent, the Panthers offense opened the game up with five quick runs off Rosewood starter Callie Thornton, spurred by timely hitting and sloppy defense. After a walk and two errors, senior Jessica Cleary smashed an RBI single up the middle, plating sophomore Mackensi Swain and junior Alex Adams. Following a strikeout, her second of the inning, Thornton walked Lang and then Taonya Stanley with the bases loaded to tally the second run. A batter later, senior Cheyenne Franks capitalized with a single to right-center, scoring Cleary and courtesy runner Kara Fath.
The Eagles pushed across a run in the first on an Adams error and scored again in the second on a sack fly, but Lang eventually settled down and began to find her groove. Over the final three innings, the Northside ace retired nine of the last 11 batters of the game.
“We sat back and took what they gave us,” said head coach Keith Boyd. “Their pitcher was struggling a bit and we took advantage of it at the plate. We were seeing it well tonight.”
After batting around in the first, Northside broke through with another four runs in the second on two errors, two singles and a loud RBI double down the left field line by sophomore Kendall Alligood.
The win was sealed in the third with nine runs, initiated by a line drive home run to the right of the scoreboard in left field from Swain. Kelsey Lang, Stanley, Franks and Rachel Lang all recorded RBI in the inning.
Kelsey Lang shut the door and the Panthers picked up her second win of the playoffs and 18th of the season. She finished with two strikeouts in five innings, allowing just one earned run, while Cleary notched a 3-for-3 performance at the plate.
“This team can go far as long as we don’t let ourselves mentally get lax and start thinking we can’t be beat because we can be beat,” Boyd said. “We just have to continue to come to practice everyday and stay focused on the field.”
Northside will face the winner of Princeton and South Creek on Tuesday.