Four Panthers named first team All-Conference, Clark earns third nod

Published 6:31 pm Saturday, July 6, 2024

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Senior pitcher/infielder Jaden Clark capped her Northside career with her third All Coastal Plains 1A/2A Conference selection as one of four Panthers chosen for the first team.

Classmate Bella Boykin joined her for the second straight year, while senior Taylor Willard and junior Londyn Keech were first-time selections.

Seniors Jorden Clark and Emaleigh Cherry along with junior Samantha Braddy made the second team, while junior Megan Hopkins was named honorable mention.

“We finished second in the conference (behind 2A East Carteret), so we could only get four players on the team, but obviously all of them contributed to our East championship run,” coach Keith Boyd said. “If we win the conference, then all of them are on the first team.”

Jaden Clark finished third in the league with a 2.52 ERA and hit .390 with eight doubles. She combined with Boykin and Keech to form a formidable mound trio.

“All three of them pitched extremely well for us and all were versatile enough to play the infield when they weren’t pitching,” Boyd said. “It helped our team to not rely on just one pitcher and them being so effective was the key to our season.”

Boykin hit .408 and tied for the conference lead in runs scored with 40, was third in home runs (three) and runs batted in (29). She also finished second with a 2.31 ERA and fourth with 69 strikeouts.

Willard led off and covered plenty of ground in the outfield. Her .494 average was fourth in the league, she was third with a .577 on-base percentage, fourth with 15 stolen bases and fifth with 33 runs scored.
“Her best season came at the right time for us,” Boyd said. “Her speed let her get to balls in the gaps in the outfield and caused problems when she reached base.”

Keech hit .400, finished fourth with 15 stolen bases and sixth with 42 strikeouts in the circle.
“She made some great plays at third base, pitched well and was a solid hitter for us,” Boyd said. “I’m glad she’s coming back.”

Braddy, Cherry, Jorden Clark and Hopkins also played pivotal roles according to Boyd.

“Nobody ran on Jorden when she caught and she gave us great at-bats,” Boyd said. “Emaleigh was solid defensively and she swung a hot bat in the playoffs. Samantha was our second-leading hitter (.435) and Megan gave us some power with three home runs. All of them contributed greatly to our success.”

Boykin (Catawba), Cherry (Pitt CC), the Clark twins (Lees-McRae) and Willard (Lees-McRae) will continue their careers at the next level.