Late-inning surge boosts Pack

Published 12:16 am Wednesday, May 14, 2014





Washington Daily News

WASHINGTON – Tuesday’s first round playoff matchup between Washington and Pasquotank featured a premier pitching matchup between two of Class 2-A’s most dominant pitchers, junior Haley Hutchins and senior Samantha Harrell.

Harrell, who will join Gardner-Webb’s softball team this fall, entered having tossed 73 of Pasquotank’s 78 innings this season, recording a 0.96 earned run average. But Tuesday’s game would be her last in a Panthers uniform, as the Pam Pack posted 13 runs en route to a rowdy 13-0-victory in front of the home crowd.

Head coach Doug Whitehead decided to mix things up offensively by employing a different lineup, different then his customary balanced approach.

“We had a couple of girls struggling and were trying to give them a different look,” Whitehead said. “Honestly, I looked at my batting averages and stacked the top of the lineup. We still had good speed at the bottom. We scored early and I wanted to utilize our speed to score some runs.”

Speed on the base paths and small ball at the plate gave Washington a quick 2-0 lead in the first, the first three batters – Style McKissick, Chrissy McKissick and Haley Hutchins – all reaching on scrappy, well-placed infield singles. Style McKissick scored on Hutchins’ single and three batters later, her sister was brought home on a fielder’s choice by junior Allison Brantley.

The early lead gave Hutchins a comfortable cushion to work against a formidable counterpart. For the next four innings, both pitchers matched each other’s intensity and relied on the strikeout to keep their teams in the game. Through four, Hutchins had already recorded nine Ks, while Harrell had seven of her own.

Washington broke through in the fifth, however, for two runs on a costly error by the Panthers. With Brantley and freshman Hailey Harris on base, freshman Jada Lodge hit a line that tipped off the center fielder’s glove and skipped to the fence.

In the following inning, the Pam Pack bats came alive and sealed the victory. Combined with two Pasquotank errors, Washington opened up for seven hits in the inning, including a RBI-triple from junior Adriana Tyson, but no hit was bigger than the last. Up 9-0 with the bases loaded, Chrissy McKissick ended the game with one swing, launching a grand slam 10 feet over the fence in left field.

“The third and fourth runs we got them as a gift,” Whitehead said. “That girl didn’t make a play that should have been made. These other runs gave us some confidence. Like they say, you want to get some insurance down to the last at bat … and that’s what we did.”

Hutchins finished with 11 strikeouts, allowing just three hits. Chrissy and Style McKissick both finished with three hits.

Washington will face Bunn in the second round of the state playoffs. The Wildcats, the No. 1 seed in the East, are the Northern Carolina Conference Champions, boasting a 17-3 record.