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PLAYOFF BASEBALL PREVIEW: Panthers look to pounce on Lakewood

It’d be difficult for the Northside baseball team to enter the NCHSAA state playoffs any hotter. The Panthers won their last seven games of the regular season, scoring a combined 80 runs, while allowing their opponents to score only five times. Included in that run of games was a 2-1 victory over cross-county rival Southside. All that kept Northside from winning the Coastal Plains 1A Conference was Riverside, who gave the Panthers their only conference losses this season on the way to an undefeated run in conference play.

Northside’s momentum, along with the disappointment of just missing out on a conference title, can provide the fuel to propel the Panthers deep into the 2018 NCHSAA Baseball State Championship, which begins today with the first round of games.

#22 LAKEWOOD (7-9, 7-5) @ #11 NORTHSIDE (17-5, 10-2), 6 P.M.

Even though Northside missed out on a conference title, and the first round bye that most likely would’ve come with it, the Panthers still have much to feel good about. Northside still opens the first round of the playoffs with a home game. On top of that, the Panthers get to play a team with a losing record in Lakewood.

While Northside enters the postseason tournament on a high, the Leopards can’t say the same. Lakewood lost its final regular season game 14-2, to a team in Hobbton that didn’t even qualify for the playoffs. Over the course of the season, the Leopards’ opponents outscored them 82-59.

The Panthers will look to continue the trend of opponents outscoring Lakewood. Seniors Reg Bishop and Parker Boyd look most likely to provide the offense for Northside. Bishop’s 32 hits and 21 RBI are good for first and second on the team, respectively, while Boyd has a team-high 24 RBI and 26 hits, placing behind only Bishop.

The Panthers are facing an unfamiliar foe in Lakewood, but their recent run of good form should see them through to the second round of the playo