Seahawks sail past Camden
By By STEVE FRANKLIN, Sports Writer
CHOCOWINITY — Southside rode strong pitching and superb defense all the way to an Atlantic Conference title this season.
Now they’re hoping the combination can carry them to a state title.
So far, so good.
Seahawks’ starting pitcher Gabby Cilluffo pitched her second straight one-hit shutout of the postseason on Thursday night as Southside defeated Camden, 6-0, in the second round of the NCHSAA 1A Softball playoffs.
Through two rounds of the state playoffs, Southside has outscored its opponents 23-0. The Seahawks have only allowed two hits this postseason and haven’t committed a single error.
Cilluffo dominated the Bruins with her powerful rise ball. Cilluffo allowed a first inning base hit, then didn’t allow another hit the rest of the way. She struck out nine batters and allowed four walks to earn the victory.
The only trouble she had came in the first and third innings. In the first, Cilluffo walked leadoff batter Jaleese Banks and Erica Plymel followed with a single. Both runners moved up on stolen bases to put runners at second and third with no outs. But Cilluffo got out of the jam by striking out Blair Myers, then getting Kristen Cochran to pop out to third, before striking out Paige Sprouse.
In the third, the Seahawks’ defense came to Cilluffo’s aid. After a pair of leadoff walks, Southside catcher Resla Penn made a running catch behind home plate, then fired the ball to center fielder Sydney Harding —who was covering second base — to double off the Bruins’ runner at second base.
From there, Cilluffo settled down and retired 13 of the final 14 batters.
While Cilluffo and the Seahawks shut down the Bruins’ offense, Southside was able to take advantage of Camden starter Kristen Cochran’s wildness. Cochran gave up eight walks in five innings.
In the bottom of the second inning, the Seahawks were able to manufacture three runs, despite only garnering one hit.
Cilluffo and Sydney Harding led off the inning with back-to-back walks, before Kelli Hardison blooped a single over second base to load the bases. Then, Mandi Harding picked up an RBI as she drew a walk to score Madison Brame, who was pinch running for Cilluffo. One batter later, the Seahawks made it 2-0 as Kristen Ayers grounded to shortstop, but reached base safely as Bruins’ shortstop tried to gun down Sydney Harding at home, but was unsuccessful.
The Seahawks final run of the inning came on a wild pitch that allowed Ayers to score.
Southside also put up three runs in the sixth.
Mandi Harding reached on an error to start the inning, then moved to second on a wild pitch and third base on a groundout by Ayers. One batter later, Harding scored on an infield single by Shakeira Lomax. The very next pitch, Resla Penn laced an RBI double to right center to score Lomax. Penn scored the Seahawks final run of the contest on an RBI single by Cilluffo.
Southside (19-4) advances to take on arch-rival Northside in the third round of the state tournament. The Seahawks will host the Panthers on Tuesday. Northside (13-9) defeated Gates County, the top-seed from the Tar Roanoke Conference, 3-0. Southside has defeated Northside twice this season, the last victory coming by a score of 9-4 in the regular season finale for both teams.
Camden 000 000 0 — 0 1 2
Southside 030 003 X — 6 6 0
WP: Gabby Cilluffo; LP: Kristen Cochran
Leading hitters: C — Erica Plymel 1-3. S — Resla Penn 1-3 (RBI, RUN), Shakeira Lomax 1-4 (RBI, RUN), Gabby Cilluffo 1-2 (RBI), Sydney Harding 1-3 (RUN). Chelsi Chandler 1-2, Kelli Hardison 1-3.