Lady Pam Pack prove to be road warriors|Advance to third round after topping Knights

Published 10:08 pm Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sports Editor

ROCKY MOUNT — Proving to be road warriors, the Washington Lady Pam Pack knocked off Northern Nash and advanced to the third round of the state playoffs.
After getting beaten by the Northern Nash Lady Knights twice during the regular season, Washington won when it mattered most. Charity Watson fanned 12 in a two-hit gem, while Kristi Wood, Morgan Bryant and Hayley Stowe all delivered clutch hits in Friday’s 5-0 win.
“The girls realized we’ve become a better team than we were earlier in the season,” Washington coach Doug Whitehead said. “(Northern Nash) is a quality team. They’re probably as quality a team as we’ve played all year. Coach (Greg) Tharrington has a great program.”
The victory vaulted the Lady Pack into the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A state playoffs for the second straight year.
“We want to make it all the way,” senior first baseman Kayla Spain said. “This is my last year so I want to go as far as I can.”
The Lady Pack (16-6), the second seed from the Coastal Conference, will play at fifth-ranked Charles B. Aycock (23-3) in Tuesday’s third round. The Falcons, the top seed from the Eastern Carolina Conference, advanced with an 8-1 win over South Central.
The Pack and Falcons are certainly familiar with one another. Washington knocked off Aycock 3-0 in 14 innings in the second round of last year’s state playoffs.
Watson allowed just two hits, both doubles off the bat of Lindsey Bailey. Northern Nash (17-5), the NEW 6 Conference champions, got a runner to third base in the fifth, but Watson kept the Lady Knights off the scoreboard.
“This is exciting,” Watson said. “We definitely need hard work and determination to keep going.”
The Lady Pack faced three different pitchers, including starter and eventual loser Melissa Avent. Freshman Morgan Bryant slapped a leadoff single off Avent in the third inning. Brittany Moss reached on a fielder’s choice. After Stacey Mayer moved the runners across, Wood laced a single into left to score Bryant for a 1-0 lead.
“We came out here wanting to win,” said Bryant, who banged out two hits and made a couple of nifty plays from her rightfield position. “We just wanted to come over here and beat them.”
Washington added a pair of insurance runs in the sixth. Watson led off by drilling a double into left-center. Kelly Kosto was inserted as a pinch-runner. Spain looked to move the runner over with a sac bunt. Northern Nash fielded the ball and tried to get Kosto out at third, but the ball sailed down the left field line. Kosto scored easily, while Spain sprinted around the bases for the third run of the game.
“I was kind of nervous, because I know the girl in leftfield has a really good arm,” Spain said. “I just know I had to truck it because I’m pretty slow. I knew I had to go. We knew we needed a couple more runs.”
The Lady Pack tacked on two more in the seventh. Wood roped her third hit of the game with one out in the seventh. Stowe followed by crushing a triple into the rightfield corner. Stowe trotted home on a wild pitch for a 5-0 lead, which proved to be more than enough for Watson.
“My confidence peaked when we got three runs,” Whitehead said. “When we got four and five, it was great.”
The Washington-Aycock winner will face the survivor between D.H. Conley (22-1) and Wilson Hunt (17-8) in the fourth round.