Tillett, Manteo ground Southside|Sinker-baller halts Hawks' playoff run

Published 10:39 pm Wednesday, May 27, 2009

By By Brian Haines
Contributing Writer

Southside softball team
racked up 21 runs in the first
two rounds of the N.C. High
School Athletic Association 1-
A playoffs, and on Tuesday it
wished it had saved a few for
the third round.
After two weeks of crushing
the ball, the Seahawks were
stonewalled by Manteo righthander
Bree Tillett as the
Redskins got a 3-0 victory to
put an end to the Atlantic Conference
champions’ season.
On the strength of a devastating
sinker ball, Tillett
limited No. 1 Southside to five
hits and issued only one walk
as the Redskins (15-6), the top
seed from the Albemarle Conference,
moved on to play the
winner of the
C a m d e n
match up.
T h e
S e a h a w k s
(17-8) were
able to get only a handful of
runners on base, and only
twice were they able to get a
base runner on third.
Southside kept waiting to
get the big hit that would
break the ice, but instead kept
bouncing Tillett pitches to the
left side of the infield.
“Her pitch gets a lot of top
spin,” Southside coach John
Lohman said. “She has kind of
a drop, so you think it’s going
to be on the bat, but you end
up hitting the top half of it and
putting it on the ground. They
have an excellent shortstop,
who with the third baseman,
made all the plays … When
you hit the ball on the ground
and they are making plays,
that’s tough to beat.”
Redskins shortstop Hayleigh
Maher and third baseman
Rachel Cockerham combined
to help on 10 of the team’s 21
outs. Over half Manteo’s put
outs (12) came via the ground
The Seahawks defense got off to a shaky start, as two errors in the first two innings helped contribute to Manteo’s first two runs.
By the third inning, Southside had settled down, and only allowed one more run. In the end it didn’t matter, as the Seahawks’ offense could not save pitcher Emily Smith from earning the loss.
Smith threw all seven innings and allowed 10 hits, while fanning two batters.
The Redskins got on the scoreboard when Tillett bounced a grounder to third that was misplayed by Southside and allowed Maher, the leadoff hitter, to score.
In the second inning a Sammy Hinnant hit got past the Southside center fielder and allowed her to travel two more bases. One batter later, Carly Creef singled in Hinnant to take a 2-0 lead.
The Redskins’ final run came in the third inning when Tillett smashed a triple to left field and was driven home by a Cockerham single.
Tillett led the Redskins’ offensive, going 2-3 with a double and a triple, while Cockerham and Creef each had one hit and one RBI.
In the bottom of the seventh, Kelli Hardison and Becky Poole each reached base for Southside, then advanced on duel delayed steals with two outs. However, the game ended appropriately enough on a ground ball to third base.
Hardison and Shakeria Lomax each went 2-3, while Kristen Ayers had the team’s only other hit.
With the loss of star pitcher Gabby Cilluffo to graduation last season, nobody knew what to expect from the Seahawks this year, but Lohman said his team rose to the occasion.
“We matched everything we did last year except for win totals,” Lohman said. “We started a little rough. Last year, our team came out knowing we were good. (With) this team we weren’t quite sure what we had, but once we started figuring it out, we started playing really well.”
The Redskins will play at Jamesville, the Tideland Conference champions, in the fourth round of the NCHSAA 1-A playoffs on Friday. Jamesville advanced after beating Camden 4-0 in the third round on Tuesday night.