REWARDED FOR RESILIENCE: Tough stretch pays off for Panthers
Published 1:19 pm Sunday, March 20, 2016
PINETOWN — Northside erupted out of its three-game skid in spectacular fashion on Friday evening. The Panthers, after winning their first three games of the season, dropped contests to Washington, Ayden-Grifton and East Carteret before demolishing Pamlico County, 20-10.
The Panthers showed plenty of resilience, bouncing back numerous times throughout the game to bounce back from their recent losses. Northside had to recover from an early 4-0 deficit and endured four lead changes before the 10-run mercy rule forced the game’s conclusion an inning early.
Coach Keith Boyd believes the team learned that resolve from that recent stretch of tough games.
“Again, I go back to those three games we played,” Boyd said. “We stayed behind in all three of those games. We kept preaching to keep your head up, fight through it, fight through it. We’re going to get into games where it’s going to pay off for us.”
And that’s exactly what happened Friday.
“We kept that same approach, even though we didn’t beat those teams,” Boyd added. “When we got to a team we could play with a little bit, they saw the rewards for staying in the fight until the last pitch.”
Pamlico County took its first lead with two outs in the first inning. The Hurricanes got two on base and cashed in on a fielding error at third base. Leading 2-0, they continued to threaten, but Northside escaped the inning and stranded two runners in scoring position.
Mistakes cost the Panthers in the top of the second inning, too. A pair of leadoff singles put Justin Spruill and Lucas McPherson on base and they later scored on consecutive passed balls.
Pamlico County reclaimed the lead with another pair of two-out runs in the top of the third. Spruill belted a triple down the right-field line to push across two runs.
Fortunately for the Panthers, the visitors giftwrapped three runs. Jensen Hawkins, Tanner Alligood and Parker Boyd all walked to start the frame. A Pamlico County error at second effectively cleared the bases.
The Hurricanes were able to take another lead with three runs in the fifth. Northside responded with nine of its own in the bottom of the frame and didn’t look back.
The Panthers scored runs however they could. They were able to make Pamlico County pay for mistakes, but also earned them at the plate by bunching together hits — especially in that nine-run fifth inning.
Northside isn’t out of the dark yet. This next week has the Panthers playing 1-A Coastal Plains conference matchups against Bear Grass on Monday and Jones Senior on Friday, with a rematch against Washington on Wednesday sandwiched between the two.
“All we want to do is take one game at a time,” Boyd said. “But, if you had to put them on a chart, we’re worried about the two conference games. Then we’ll go to Washington and have fun with it. Right now we’re focused on conference games.”
Three games in a week will be tough, no matter the opponents. Regardless, Friday’s win proved resilience can keep the team in just about any game.