Pack prepares for post-season push; Panthers, Seahawks also in the mix

Published 7:05 pm Wednesday, April 20, 2022

The county high school girls softball teams return to the field next week after spring break with playoff positions and seeds on the line.

Two of the top 2A teams in the east will clash Tuesday as top-ranked Washington High School (16-0, 8-0) hosts seventh-ranked SouthWest Edgecombe (17-0, 8-0) in a 7 p.m. contest.

The teams meet again Friday in Pinetops, so the Eastern Plains Conference title and a high playoff seed should be decided by the end of the week.

“it’s nice to have the first one at home coming off spring break,” WHS coach Brad Horton said. “We have played very well so far, but so have they and it will be a big test for us.”

The Pam Pack has put up impressive offensive numbers, hitting .412 as a team and averaging 12 runs on 12 hits a game.

Senior second baseman Laci Campbell leads the way with a .560 average, 28 runs scored and 18 runs batted in. Senior outfielders Morgan Eisenzimmer (.481, 26 runs scored, 21 RBI) and Olivia Paszt (.404), along with juniors Shaelee Crismon (.400) and Ava Shae Mizell (.400, 29 runs, 18 RBI and four home runs) lead a potent attack that leaves opposing pitchers very little chance to breathe.

With the bats booming, the Pack hasn’t had many opportunities to work on the aspect of the game known as small ball.

“It’s basically when a left-handed batter bunts for a base hit up the third base line or tries to slap it between the pitcher and first baseman,” Horton explained. “It puts a lot of pressure on the defense to react quickly and can get your team excited when they haven’t been hitting well. We’ve improved it the last few games and will need it the rest of the way.”

If WHS wins their remaining five games, they will claim the conference title and the home field advantage that goes with the top playoff seed.

Freshman pitchers Emma Orr and junior Erin Everett have dominated in the circle, throwing to a combined 1.18 earned run average. Orr has 107 strikeouts in 60.2 innings, while Everett has whiffed 38 in 28 innings. Horton said it will be a combined effort the rest of the way.

“We will use them both in the same game as much as possible,” he said. “It’s different when you are used to starting, but it’s effective in the playoffs. We have some very competitive games the rest of the way and we’re excited to go compete.”

Northside hosts Southside in a Tuesday doubleheader in the first games back from break for both teams.

The Panthers, (8-5, 3-2) are in third place in the Coastal Plains 1A Conference, while the Seahawks (4-8, 0-5) are looking to end a three game skid.

Northside is 12th in the RPI rankings and Southside is 23rd. The top 32 make the playoffs.

Sophomore Jacqueline Hernandez leads the Seahawks with a .500 average, 18 runs scored and 17 RBI.

Senior Alexis Whitehurst is batting .485 with five doubles and junior Logan Dail has scored 20 runs.

Northside has seven games left, while the Seahawks have five. The state tournament starts May 10.