• 45°

Panthers’ softball rides fifth-inning scoring spree to victory

PINETOWN—Northside found itself in a evenly-fought game against Manteo on Wednesday, until the Panthers exploded for five runs in the fifth inning en route to a 7-1 victory in their final home game of the year.

After breezing though its last four victories, Northside (14-5, 10-1) found itself challenged by non-conference opponent Manteo (8-10, 6-7). The Panthers’ head coach, Gil Robbins, said he sees being pushed by an opponent this late in the season as a benefit to the team. He wants his players to experience pressure in regular season games so they’re used to it by playoff time.

“ It was a tough game. It kind of turns you, ties you up in a knot there, but at the same time it has that postseason feel to it, and you have to believe that’s going to help you when you get into tournament play,” Robbins said. “So I was pretty excited about how we did.”

As has often been the case this season, Northside took the lead early. Whittney Cromwell hit an RBI-double in the bottom of the first to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead. Northside had an opportunity to increase its lead in the second, having loaded the bases. But a groundout with two outs saw that chance slip away.

Having just prevented the Panthers from increasing its lead, Manteo responded by evening the score in the top of the third. Maiya Riberio started off the inning with an infield-single, before bringing brought home by a Logan Saunders double, making the score 1-1.

The scoreboard remained that way until Northside’s bats finally came alive in the bottom of the fifth. The Panthers amassed seven hits in the inning as they went up 6-1 over Manteo. Northside had been having some difficulty with Manteo pitcher Mary Marchitelli, but the Panthers made adjustments as the game went on. Robbins said one of the adjustments made was telling his batters to be a bit more disciplined.

“With particularly good pitchers, it takes a little while to find a solution,” Robbins said. “We were kind of watching her the whole time. We were making adjustments in there; we were trying to move our batters in a little bit, trying to take away the outer edge of the plate.”

Northside finished the game with 12 hits. Kaitlyn Spain led the way offensively, racking up three hits, including a double, and three RBI. Cromwell also had three hits in the game and an RBI of her own. Teagan Pilgreen and Amelia Woolard also had multi-hit games, getting two apiece.

Rebekah Williams started in the pitcher’s circle for the Panthers, before moving to second base after three innings of work. Williams allowed one run on four hits and struck out one Manteo batter while pitching. Madison Braddy came in to pitch for Williams, picking up the win in four innings of work. Braddy allowed a single hit and fanned five batters while pitching.

Northside will return to action next Wednesday, when the Panthers will play in the first round of the NCHSAA Playoffs. Seeding for the tournament, and their opponent, will be determined on Monday.