Postseason action heats up|Five area softball teams looking to stay alive

Published 6:09 pm Friday, May 21, 2010

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
Six area softball teams started their run at a state title this week and five of them have passed their first test and moved on to the second round.
In the 1-A division, Southside, Jamesville, Williamston, Bear Grass and Northside each entered the first round as legitimate candidates to have a lengthy postseason, and all but one made it to the next round.
Northside (12-9), the No. 3 seed from the Four Rivers Conference, drew a tough first-round matchup and got tripped up by a solid Pamlico team. The Hurricanes (14-6), the No. 2 seed from the Tar Roanoke Conference, were able to keep the Panthers’ bats quiet as they won 6-0.
Aside from the Panthers, the other a fore mentioned 1-A teams each moved into the second round along with 3-A Washington. However, after today two area teams are guaranteed to be eliminated from the postseason.
Here is a look at the matchups.
No. 2 Williamston at No. 1 Jamesville
By far the most intriguing matchup of the second round, Williamston versus Jamesville has all the makings of a good playoff game.
Both teams are from Martin County and are led by quality coaches as the No. 1 Bullets (18-1, Tideland) are guided by long-time coach Richie Ange and the second-seeded Tigers (15-7, Four Rivers) are led by Damon Hayes, who has routinely made his squad a contender for a conference title. The two skippers have known each other for some time as Ange was Hayes’ high school football coach.
If Hayes can take down Ange and his Bullets on Friday it will be the first time he has done so in his career. On Wednesday, after Williamston’s 7-5 win over Dixon, Hayes estimated that he is 0-5 against his former coach.
While Williamston held on to top the Bulldogs and advance, Jamesville breezed into the second round with a 10-0 win over Kipp Pride.
What makes this year’s matchup even more fun and intense, besides the fact that a lot of the players know each other, is the impending merger between these schools next school year. That means, aside from the playoff stakes, a heavy plate of bragging rights will also be on the table.
No. 2 Bear Grass at No. 1 Southside
These two teams took polar opposite paths to the second round of the playoffs and on Friday we will see if how/if it affects their performance.
Southside (17-4), who has won three straight conference championships en route to earning the No. 1 seed from the Four Rivers Conference, dismantled an extremely overwhelmed third-seeded North Edgecombe (7-7, Tar Roanoke) team by the score of 15-2 in five innings.
The beating could have been worse but Seahawks’ skipper John Lohman emptied his bench by the third inning. While every team is always happy with a win, the problem for Southside was that the Warriors started a pitcher whose fastball was greatly lacking, hence it may affect the Southside hitters’ timing going into its matchup with the Bears.
On the other hand, Bear Grass (14-8, Tideland) sweated out a 6-5 win over a quality fourth-seeded Camden team (10-8). It will be determined on Friday if the tight win over the Bruins was draining or a momentum-booster.
 No. 5 Washington at No. 2 South Johnston
Washington pulled off somewhat of an upset in the first round of the 3-A playoffs when the fifth-seeded Pam Pack (8-11, Coastal Conference) knocked off No. 1 seed Currituck (7-11, Northeastern Conference) to advance to the second round.
Washington will have to come up with an upset of bigger proportion Friday when it squares off against South Johnston whose is the No. 2 seed from the Eastern Carolina Conference and boasts a 19-8 record.
The Pam Pack seemingly put up a good show in the first round as it rolled over Currituck 7-1. South Johnston drew a tough first-round matchup, but was able to advance by pulling out a nail-biting 1-0 victory over No. 2 Nash Central who ended the season with a 19-6 record.