County teams primed for another successful spring

Published 5:02 pm Thursday, February 29, 2024

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All three county public high school softball teams posted playoff victories for the first time in several seasons last spring. Northside and Southside return most of their starters, while Washington has one of the top pitchers in the East.

Washington: The Pam Pack graduated three key seniors from last year’s Eastern Plains 2A Conference championship squad and lost their leading hitter, junior Emma Harris, to an ACL injury. However, left-hander Emma Orr is back for her third season in the circle, which poses major problems for the rest of the area.

Orr opened her junior campaign with a 16-strikeout one-hitter in the Pack’s 11-0 victory at West Carteret, picking up where she left off after throwing four no-hitters last spring. Orr helped her own cause with a two-run homer.

“We have a lot more young players this year and will probably have to manufacture more runs, so we are relying on her much more than in her first two years,” coach Brad Horton said. “I’m not planning on getting 11 hits every game like we did in the opener, so she will have to carry us some games. She’s aware and is ready to handle throwing 100-130 pitches a game twice a week.”

Catcher Addison Miller returns for her junior season and will split time behind the plate and at first base with sophomore Carly Woolard. Senior Peyton Youmans (2B), junior Alani Hyatt (SS) and senior Mica Lilly (3B) complete the infield, while freshmen Ryleigh Elks (RF) and Honor Edwards (LF) and junior Samantha Ward (CF) will patrol the outfield.

“Our older girls have done a great job teaching the younger ones how we do things, which will help us execute as a team later on,” Horton said. “We started two freshmen in the opener and they both had two hits for us, so hopefully we’ll hit enough to make Emma’s job easier.”

Northside: The Panthers return five senior starters from a team that was two extra-inning losses to conference rival Pamlico County away from a conference title and multiple home games in the state tournament. Long-time football and baseball coach Keith Boyd returns to coach the program he started in the late 90’s to help his players take the next steps toward a deep playoff run.

“I think we can get there, but we have to do it one game at a time,” Boyd said. “These girls came so close last year and the key to achieving their goal is to stay focused on that day’s game. We’ve had great practices and have some versatility on our roster, so we’re looking for a successful season.”

The Panthers routed Manteo, 9-0, in Wednesday’s opener behind eight hits from seven different players and 14 strikeouts from senior pitchers Bella Boykin and Jaden Clark.

Boyd says senior Taylor Willard and junior Londyn Keech can also pitch.

Junior Samantha Braddy and senior Jorden Clark will alternate at catcher and first baseman. Senior Emaleigh Cherry will play second base, while Boykin and Jaden Clark will rotate between shortstop and the circle. Keech is at third with sophomore Riley Hudson (LF), Willard (CF) and junior Megan Hopkins (RF) in the outfield.

“We have the pieces,” Boyd said. “it’s a matter of putting them together so everything fits.”

Southside: The Seahawks are coming off their first state tournament appearance and victory since 2017 and have a good mix of pitching and hitting to return.

Southside opened with a 15-10 home victory over John Paul II Wednesday behind four hits and four runs batted in from senior Jackie Gutierrez and junior Lily McLean.

Coach Kam Rouse is counting those two for consistent production at the plate and in the field.
McLean, who hit .571 as a sophomore, anchors the infield at shortstop, while Gutierrez patrols center field.
Sophomore Carolina Crisp earned the pitching victory with 11 strikeouts in six innings.
Senior Mya Bryant and sophomore April Mizell combined to pitch the seventh inning.

Freshman Ryleigh Carrow is the catcher with Dana Ransom (1B), Crisp or Bryant (2B) McLean (SS) and sophomore Emily Mondragon (3B) as the starting infield.

Sophomore Annalynn Silverthorne (LF), Gutierrez (CF) and senior Charlotte Dela Cruz (RF) start in the outfield.

“Lily went to camps and worked hard on hitting and fielding in the off-season and Jackie makes all the plays in the outfield. One of our goals is to host a playoff game and I think we can if our young players continue to improve and we stay healthy.”