Seven area teams earn playoff spots
By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
Seven of the area’s baseball teams will continue the quest for a state championship this week.
The seven, all from the Class 1-A ranks, will begin play in the NCHSAA Class 1-A state playoffs on Friday. Three of those teams will have homefield advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Williamston, Bear Grass and Jamesville earned the right to host the first round games.
Also qualifying for the playoffs were Northside, Plymouth, Mattamuskeet and Columbia.
The Williamston Tigers (14-10), the top seed from the Atlantic Conference, will play host to the Gates County Red Barons (14-8), the third seed from the Albemarle Conference. Coach Hank Tice’s Tigers have beaten the Red Barons twice this season. The teams met in the second round of the playoffs last year, with Williamston prevailing 10-7.
Williamston is 40-27 in 23 previous trips to the state playoffs, while Gates County is 3-5 in five trips. The Tigers have won five state championships — a 1-A title in 1955, a 1-AA title in 1969, 1-AAA titles in 1975 and 1976 and the 1-A state championship in 1995. Williams has finished runner-up in 1988, 2001 and 2002.
The winner will take on the survivor between Northside and Northampton-East. Coach Addison Bass will take his Northside Panthers (10-10), the second seed from the Atlantic Conference, on the road to face the Rams (12-4), the second seed from the Tar Roanoke Conference.
Bear Grass earned homefield advantage by earning the top seed from the Tideland Conference. The Bears (15-5), guided by David Eubanks, will play host to the Northampton-West Hurricanes (7-7), the fourth seed from the Tar Roanoke Conference.
The Bears, 0-9 in nine previous trips to the playoffs, are looking for their first-ever playoff victory.
The winner will face the survivor between Camden (15-8), the second seed from the Albemarle Conference, and the Columbia Wildcats (7-9), the third seed from the Tideland Conference.
Columbia is 4-13 in 13 previous appearances at the state tournament.
Jamesville finished second in the Tideland Conference. Coach Jerry Ange’s Bullets (11-6) will play host to coach Terry Perry’s Plymouth Vikings (10-8), which finished third in the Atlantic Conference.
The Bullets, making their first trip to the postseason since 2002, are 20-16 in 17 previous appearances. Jamesville won 1-A state titles in 1979, 1980, 1984 and 1985, while finishing runner-up in 1983. Plymouth holds an 8-10 mark in 10 previous appearances.
The winner will take on the survivor between Louisburg (18-4), the top seed in the Tar Roanoke Conference, and the Mattamuskeet Lakers (7-9), the fourth seed in the Tideland Conference.
The Lakers, 1-2 in two playoff appearances, are making their first postseason appearance since 1995.
In other 1-A games from the East, Albemarle top seed Manteo (22-2) plays host to wild-card entry North Duplin (9-9), while Coastal Plains second seed Dixon (16-7) plays host to Tar Roanoke third seed North Edgecombe (10-8). The winners of those two games meet in the second round.
NCHSAA Class 1-A State Baseball Playoffs
Gates County at Williamston
Northampton-West at Bear Grass
Plymouth at Jamesville
Northside at Northampton-East
Mattamuskeet at Louisburg
Columbia at Camden
Williamston-Gates County winner vs. Northside-Northampton-East winner
Bear Grass-Northampton-West winner vs. Columbia-Camden winner
Jamesville-Plymouth winner vs. Mattamuskeet-Louisburg winner