Stepping Up: Northside aiming for CPC title

Published 10:33 am Monday, April 24, 2017

Northside got a little help from local rival Southside just before last weekend’s Easter festivities in Washington. The Seahawks, just two games before meeting the Panthers in the Easter tournament, handed Bear Grass an 8-7 loss — its first 1-A Coastal Plains Conference defeat of the season.

It’s something that Northside couldn’t do in Williamston back on March 28. The top-ranked Bears scored twice in the first inning. The Panthers handcuffed them from there, shutting them out for the remainder of the game. Grant Talbot batted in Tanner Alligood to cut the deficit in half in the sixth. Four others had a hit in the game, but that was the only run Northside would score.

One of those two runs Bear Grass scored came on an error. Clean defense will be key this time around when Bear Grass visits Pinetown on Thursday. After a long spell of staunch defense, the Panthers committed three errors that Washington cashed in on in a 10-run inning that won the Pam Pack the Easter tournament championship.

It’s not a common theme for Northside, though. After narrowly losing at Bear Grass weeks ago, the Panthers went on to win six in a row. Their defense and pitching staff blanked two opponents and conceded two or fewer runs in five of the six wins.

The sixth win was a rollercoaster of a game at Southside. After taking a 3-2 lead in the top of the sixth, the Seahawks took over with six runs in the bottom half. The Panthers put their mental resolve on display when they responded with a half dozen runs of their own in the top of the seventh to slip away with the win.

Northside is playing top-notch baseball right now. Five players are batting .295 or better. Zach Woolard and Alligood both sport an ERA south of 2.00. There’s palpable confidence within the team, despite the lopsided loss against Washington.

The Panthers got a week off. Optional practices were well attended. The Panthers begin the home stretch with a trip to Jones Senior on Tuesday then to North Pitt on Wednesday. The season ends with a three-game home stand starting with the Bears on Thursday. If they can top the Trojans — the same Trojans they beat 8-0 at home earlier in the season — on Tuesday, that clash with Bear Grass will most likely determine the league champion.

After that, Washington visits Pinetown on May 1. Then the Seahawks come in on May 4 for senior night.