Washington comes up short against Bunn in Round 2

Published 11:03 pm Friday, May 15, 2015

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS SO CLOSE: Pam Pack players look on in the final inning as the bottom of the lineup tried to knock in the tying run from second base.

SO CLOSE: Pam Pack players look on in the final inning as the bottom of the lineup tried to knock in the tying run from second base.

BUNN — A bad bounce and a ground ball that trickled two inches to the left of third base was the difference in a 1-0 Pam Pack loss to Bunn in Round 2 of the NCHSAA 2-A state tournament on Friday.

For a second-straight year, Washington played No. 2-seeded Bunn (18-1, 13-1 Northern Carolina) to a one-run game, as hits came at a premium again two of eastern North Carolina’s top 2-A pitchers.

Following what was a solid first round outing, senior Haley Hutchins brought her best stuff to the table against the Wildcats, but junior Erica Davis, who entered boasting a minuscule 0.83 ERA, was just a touch better. Davis held the Pam Pack to five base runners — four hits and one walk — while recording 11 strikeouts. After pitching a perfect four frames, a walk, an error and two singles were the extent of the Bunn offense.

“We faced a good pitcher, but we just weren’t productive hitting the ball,” said head coach Doug Whitehead. “It’s sad to end it. It’s such a great group of seniors who put their hearts into this program. I hate to see them go out on a loss.”

Hutchins wasn’t the only Washington senior to light up the box score in her final game in blue and white. Catie Dority finished with a game-high two hits, supplying half of the visitor’s offense.

One of those hits was a leadoff, slapstick single in the first inning, followed by a stolen base, both of which ignited the crowd early. After walking senior Haley Wright, Davis escaped the inning, forcing a ground out and picking up a strikeout. Through the next four frames, Davis would not allow a single Washington base runner to reach.

In the top of the fifth, Hutchins walked Davis to lead off the inning. Davis reached second via a sacrifice bunt and later went to third on a groundout. Then, senior Kristy Green squibbed a ball in the infield that took an in-between hop over the glove of Wright at third, scoring Davis.

“I don’t know if you want to give it a hit, but it was just one of those impossible things to field,” Whitehead said. “Haley Wright is going to be there to do that one-thousands times over and the ball just takes a spinning bounce.”

Again, Washington threatened in the top of the sixth after Dority singled, stole second and reached third after tagging up on a fly out to right field. A pop out to second base, however, would end the threat.

Like Davis, Hutchins escaped a jam in the sixth after allowing two straight singles to lead off the inning. After a strikeout, Wright picked off a line drive down the third base line, turned and fired a perfect strike to Dority to double up the runner at first.

“Good effort from both teams today,” Whitehead said. “It was just two good pitchers and relatively no offense. Haley showed her heart. The first two batters get on first and second in that sixth inning and we came out of it with nothing.”

In the top of the seventh, Davis struck out the first batter, but senior Allison Brantley and sophomore Sarah Lynch followed with back-to-back singles. After Davis picked up another strikeout, sophomore reserve Haylee Simpkins, who got the start in place of the injured Chrissy McKissick, stepped up as the last hope for the Pam Pack. After a lengthy at bat, Simpkins hit a shot down the third base line, but the ball went just inches foul for what would have been the game-winning hit. Davis used her plus-fastball to pick up the third strikeout of the inning and seal the victory for Bunn.

With the win, Washington closes the season 16-5 (7-3 Eastern Plains) and will graduate six seniors in June.

“It was a great, successfully season,” Whitehead said. “We play in a tough, tough conference. You play your heart out and you tie for second place, getting a No. 15 seed. We’re probably one of the 10 best teams in 2-A in the state, but it’s tough when you get a bad seed, you have to face teams like this early on. We’ll say goodbye to these girls and try to start a new chapter for us.”