Stepping Up: Washington baseball, softball fighting for league titles

Published 5:34 pm Friday, April 21, 2017

This past week has been quiet due to Beaufort County schools being on spring break. This coming week will be anything but quiet.

The 2-A Eastern Plains Conference championship for baseball and softball will be decided in a two-game series between Washington and North Johnston. The Pam Pack, winner of its last 10 in a row, is 6-0 in the league. As is North Johnston, which recently slipped up with a consecutive non-conference losses in the Golden Leaf Invitational.

On the other hand, Washington is playing excellent baseball right now. The Pam Pack has outscored opponents 83-17 over the course of its 10-game win streak. Perhaps most indicative of its turnaround since a rough start to the season was the way Washington manhandled local foe Northside.

The Panthers scooted past Washington in their March 7 encounter. It was early in the season for both clubs. After surrendering two runs in the first, Northside handcuffed Washington’s offense. It scored thrice in the top of the sixth, two of which resulted from an error, to take the lead and eventually claim the win on Washington’s turf.

A month and 10 days later, Washington exploded for 10 runs in the fourth inning to defeat the Panthers via the mercy rule. With that, the Pam Pack claimed the Easter tournament championship and built even more momentum heading into the most important week of the season.

Meghan Horton nabs a ball batted her way and makes the throw to first base. Horton and the Lady Pack will need to have some of their best defensive performances to top North Johnston and take a step toward a league title.

There are scenarios where the baseball team doesn’t need a sweep to win the title, or at least a share of it. That’s not the case for the Lady Pack. The softball team let one slip by in a loss to Beddingfield, which sits at 3-3 in the league.

The Lady Panthers are still undefeated. However, they did have a nine-game win streak broken in a 2-0 non-conference loss to C.B. Aycock this past Monday.

The Lady Pack strung together some impressive showings in Conley’s Easter tournament. A 6-5 in which Washington scored four runs in the seventh was sandwiched between blowouts of Ayden-Grifton and Havelock.

Washington and North Johnston are quite similar. The Lady Panthers’ defense has allowed one more run than Washington’s while the Lady Pack offense has scored 27 more times. The game will likely boil down to whichever team commits minimal errors, but it will also serve Washington’s potent bats to stay ahead of sophomore pitcher Alyssa Moore. She has struck out over twice as many batters as she’s walked.

Washington is set to host North Johnston on Tuesday before wrapping up the home-and-home set in Kenly on Friday.