Panthers blast Seahawks

Published 12:22 am Saturday, April 12, 2014




The Northside softball team continued its storybook season with a statement and offensively mind-numbing win against county rival Southside, 24-1.

“Southside is struggling a little and our pitching is pretty consistent,” said head coach Keith Boyd. “They went out there, didn’t make any errors and the pitchers pitched well.”

Junior Kelsey Lang made her ninth start Friday evening and had little trouble containing the Seahawk bats. The Panthers’ ace has been brilliant this season, posting an ERA of under one in nine appearances.

After Lang retired the side in the first, Northside’s lineup chalked up two quick runs on an error by the Southside shortstop and singles from sophomore Mackensi Swain and freshman Rachel Lang. The Panthers, who are averaging about 13 runs a game, were far from finished at the plate.

With one out and a runner on, Swain came up to the plate in the second and smashed a 220-foot homer to dead center, her team-high third of the season. An inning later, the Panthers unloaded on Southside’s pitching, as Kelsey Lang, sophomore Kendall Alligood, junior Taonya Stanley and senior Jessica Clearly all reached via base on balls. Senior Alexander Cutler blasted a double past the shortstop to score two, and the next seven batters reached without recording an out. When the dust settled, Northside had increased its 4-0 lead by 12 runs.

However, Southside spoiled the shutout in the fourth after senior Valarie Hodges blasted a double to the gap, later scoring on a single by junior Tia Hardy. A small win for what’s been a tough season for the Seahawks.

Northside mirrored the previous inning and tacked on another eight runs in the fourth on four hits and two errors. The power-hitting Swain finished with four hits and a walk, pushing her season average above the .500 mark to an impressive .521.

“She finds ways on base all the time,” Boyd said. “She draws walks, doesn’t strikeout and does exactly what a leadoff hitter should do.”

Following yet another big offensive inning, Rachel Lang got a chance to showcase her plus-fastball in the final inning, striking out two of the three batters she faced.

“The Lang sisters are complimentary to each other,” Boyd said. “Kelsey, she’s got a lot of movement in and out. Rachel, she brings a little bit of heat, but her changeup is really good. They’re great for giving teams a different look.”

With the win, the Panthers improve to 12-1 (5-0 Eastern Plains). On Thursday, Northside will host East Carteret, who held the Panthers to just three runs in the last meeting.

“That’s going to be a big test of how we finish in the standings,” Boyd said. “It’s going to be a battle.”