Washington softball coasts through Viking Easter Tournament
Published 1:13 pm Tuesday, April 7, 2015
GREENVILLE — Riding a sterling two-day showing from pitcher Haley Hutchins, the Pam Pack softball team celebrated the holiday weekend in style, picking up wins over Tarboro, Rosewood and Bertie at the D.H. Conley Easter Tournament.
The three-game sweep came just days after Washington dropped a 7-5 contest to Beddingfield, which, along with the Pack, is one of the favorites to take what should be a wide open Eastern Plains Conference. And despite all three tournament teams boasting losing records, it’s Washington that enters the home stretch with a generous helping of offensive momentum.
Senior Haley Wright, who has already committed to play collegiate ball at Pitt County Community College with Hutchins next spring, continued her storybook 2015 campaign this weekend — her batting average now at .564 after recording her sixth multi-hit stat line in 10 games.
“Haley Wright has just been as consistent as can be. She’s just staying on fire,” said head coach Doug Whitehead. “The thing is, she gets to hit behind Haley Hutchins, so maybe a lot of teams remember her from last year. She’s taken advantage of it … She has been our clutch, go-to girl. She’s done more with two outs than any other hitter I’ve seen in a long time. She has been so important to our lineup. She’s taken on the role and accepted it well.”
Wright’s bat has been one of a few constants for head coach Doug Whithead so far. The other has been the right arm of Hutchins.
Through three games (two shortened), the senior hurler tallied 22 strikeouts in 15 innings of work, all while allowing one run (unearned) on eight hits and three walks. The strong performance lowers Hutchins’ ERA to a minuscule 1.19 and bumps her strikeout total to 93, eight behind North Pitt’s Makayla Meeks for most in the conference.
Supplementing the production of Wright and Hutchins were junior Chrissy McKissick and senior catcher Allison Brantley, who both managed to bump their season averages to around the .400 mark. McKissick finished the weekend with six hits, including a mammoth 4-for-4, seven-RBI showing against Tarboro in the opener. Brantley also picked up six hits through the tournament to go along with three RBIs.
On Saturday, less than three hours after a partial lunar eclipse at sunrise, the Pam Pack took to the diamond at D.H. Conley and overshadowed Tarboro, 16-0, in what was the team’s most lopsided win of the season.
After walks to Hutchins and Wright, a double by McKissick and a single from Brantley resulted in a two-run first inning.
Washington went on to score three runs in the second on two walks and hits from Wright, McKissick and junior Sara Alligood, and another four in the third after McKissick cleared the bases with a double and a Jada Lodge single scored McKissick.
But the bats really came alive in the fourth, where Washington put the game away with seven runs on four hits, one walk and two errors. After quickly loading the bases, Tarboro gave up a sac fly off the bat of Hutchins and two batters later, a McKissick double plated Haley Whitham and Wright. Later in the inning, senior Catie Dority smacked a two-run single, scoring Lodge and Brantley.
On top of standout performances from Hutchins, McKissick and Brantley, Wright pitched a scoreless fifth frame and Witham also notched two hits.
Following a short break, it took Washington seven innings to overcome Rosewood, 3-1, in a matinee pitchers’ duel that came down to the late innings.
The Pam Pack struck first after Jessica Evans walked and Meghan Moore reached on a sac bunt, which resulted in a throwing error that moved Evans and Moore into scoring position. A sac fly from Hutchins scored Evans.
After two frames of scoreless ball, Rosewood finally pushed across a run in the top of the fourth to tie the game, but the Pam Pack had an answer in the bottom half of the frame. McKissick singled and Lodge reached on an error, scoring McKissick and advancing Lodge to second. After a steal of third base, a hard-hit single from Brantley scored Lodge.
Hutchins went the distance and recorded nine strikeouts, her one unearned tournament run being all of Rosewood’s offensive production on the afternoon.
On Monday, a massive second-inning, two-out rally put away Bertie, 13-0, in the final game of the tournament.
After scoring one run in the first, Washington pieced together seven runs on two outs in the second, as Lynch, Wright (three-run double), McKissick and Brantley all came through with hits. In total, 13 batters came to the plate in the frame.
Washington tacked on another three runs of insurance in the third inning to account for all the scoring in the game.
Wright finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs, while Lodge and Brantley both had multi-hit, multi-RBI days. On the mound, Dority relieved Hutchins and pitched a scoreless fifth frame.
“We’ve got to show what we can do (moving forward),” Whitehead said. “We’ve had Chrissy McKissick’s bat just explod from this weekend. She falls right behind Haley Wright in the lineup right now, so there’s a little bit of murderer’s row going on right now.”
With eight conference games remaining on the schedule, Washington currently sits at 8-2 (3-1 EPC) and will face North Johnston (5-4, 1-1 EPC) in Kenly on April 14.