A great night for the Panthers

Published 11:23 pm Friday, May 17, 2024

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Friday night’s fourth round 1A state baseball playoff game between Northside and Roxboro Community had everything a player, coach or fan could want.

Two future Division I starting pitchers were strong early, both sides made key defensive plays, both sides executed in pressure situations and there were even two extra innings to keep everyone on the edge of their seat.

After giving up two runs in the top of the ninth, the third-seeded Panthers (20-5) rallied for three to walk off with a 6-5 victory over #7 Roxboro Community (15-4) to advance to the East finals next week.

“We just kept believing,” coach Parker Boyd said. “We kept a positive mindset when we were down two and battled back. It was a true team effort and I’m really proud of all of them.”

Northside led 3-0 after two innings against future UNC-Wilmington left-hander Carver Pleasant, while future ECU right-hander Jams Sawyer retired six of the first seven batters.

Sawyer gave up a run in the third and fifth, then the Bulldogs squeezed home the tying run in the sixth.

Both sides turned it over to the bullpen later and Roxboro put together two walks, a short wild pitch and a two-run double before Brandon Arthur recovered to fan the last batter with runners at first and third.

That set the stage for the final comeback as Hunter Chrismon and Will Taylor drew walks to start the inning. Senior Griffin Johnson lined a single to right field to load the bases. With one out, senior Jamie Corprew smoked a two-run single to right center to tie the game and send Johnson to third.
Freshman Ashton Willard hit a grounder to second, then Johnson faked a dash home, which forced the second baseman into a bad throw to first, which allowed Johnson to score the winning run.

“It was a crazy game between two good teams that ended up going our way,” Boyd said. “It’s high school baseball under the lights on a Friday night with a great home crowd cheering us on. It doesn’t get much better.”
The Panthers will face #4 East Wake Academy, who upset top-seeded Bear Grass, 8-6, in a best of three series next week to determine the East champion. Game times and sites will be announced this weekend.

Meanwhile, the Panthers girls softball team will also play for the East title after a 12-5 upset victory over top-seeded North Duplin (17-2), who had outscored their first three opponents, 37-8 on their field.

It’s the third straight road win for the 13th-seeded Panthers (19-4), who struck for three runs in the second, four in the third and two in the fourth for a 9-0 advantage.

“I think we stunned them a little and it took a while for them to recover,” coach Keith Boyd said. “To knock off the fourth, fifth and top seed on the road is a very big deal and I’m really proud of our girls. We swung the bats very well and Jaden Clark and Bella (Boykin) were outstanding in the circle.”

Jorden Clark led the Panthers 12-hit attack with a grand slam and a pair of doubles which produced four runs batted in and she also scored three runs.
Taylor Willard 3-4 with two RBI, Boykin was 2-3 with a home run, Meaghan Hopkins was 2-4 with an RBI and Jaden Clark was 1-2 with two RBI.

“We are coming together at the right time and playing for each other,” Boyd said. “There’s no egos and no drama, it’s all about winning.”

The Panthers play the Roxboro Community-Vance Charter winner in a best of three series for the East title next week. Game times and sites will be announced over the weekend.