Panthers pounce on Pirates|Will play Williamston for the No. 2 seed

Published 8:38 pm Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sports Editor

YEATESVILLE — The Northside Panthers came through in the clutch.
Whitney Lewis belted an RBI triple in the bottom of the sixth, while Kelly Miller fired 4 2/3 innings of perfect ball to lead the Panthers to a 5-4 victory over the Perquimans Pirates. The win, coming in Wednesday’s regular-season finale, forced a two-day tie with Williamston for second place in the Atlantic Conference.
“I think this was definitely a good step toward the playoffs,” said senior Amanda Beirne, who banged out two hits. “We just have to keep believing in ourselves.”
Northside and Williamston will play at 6 p.m. today at Southside High School to determine the No. 2 seed for the state softball playoffs.
“Williamston is a tough team and we respect them, but this team can definitely play if everyone works together,” Northside coach Louise Beirne said. “If we don’t make errors behind our pitcher, we’ll be just fine.”
Northside (12-8, 10-4) rallied from deficits of 3-0 and 4-1 to overtake the Pirates. Miller, just a freshman, helped keep Perquimans at bay and gave the Panthers a chance to rally. She entered in the third inning with runners at second and third and just one out. Miller proceeded to strike out the next two batters to keep it a 4-1 game.
The hard-throwing freshman went on to retire all 14 batters she faced, 10 of them by strikeout.
Miller entered for Rachel Hollowell, who gave up just one hit in 2 1/3 innings. Hollowell, just a freshman herself, walked five in the game.
“She did a great job,” coach Beirne said of Miller. “By her senior year, she’ll be a very strong pitcher and I think she’ll be one of the best out there.”
Trailing 3-0, the Panthers got on the board in the second. Hannah Bowen drew a two-out walk and later scored on Amanda Daw’s sharp single into left.
Perquimans went up 4-1 in the top of the third, but Northside responded in the bottom half with three runs to tie it.
Beirne got things started with a single, the first of her two hits on the day. Kassie Sasnett then reached on an error. Senior Cameron Waters laced a single to right that scored Beirne. Sasnett and Waters both scored on wild pitches to tie the game at 4-4.
It stayed that way until the sixth.
Miller stroked a one-out single to center and Daw reached on a fielder’s choice. A base-running mistake wiped the runner off second base, but the Panthers weren’t done. Daw advanced to second and third on wild pitches. Lewis followed by drilling a triple into right field, easily scoring Daw with what proved to be the game-winner.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know there were two outs when I got the hit,” Lewis said. “I’m glad I did it.”
Lewis is hoping she and her teammates can continue their solid play in an important game against the Williamston Tigers today.
“It’s going to take good offense and good defense because they are a good team,” Lewis said.
Coach Beirne is proud that her team has overcome adversity to be in this position.
“We’re still learning about this team,” she said. “It’s been up and down because of a lot of injuries and sickness.
“This feel good. I’m proud of the girls.”
The Northside coach said her two seniors — Amanda Beirne and Waters, have been instrumental to the team’s success. Amanda Beirne will be headed to Meredith College to play softball next year, while Waters will be attending the University of North Carolina.
“They are both very good friends,” coach Beirne said. “They’re both excellent students and they both do a lot for the school.”