Prep Softball Playoffs: East looks strong in first round win
Eager to take the field again after a lackluster win in last week's Central Carolina Conference tournament championship, East Davidson returned to top form in the first round of Wednesday's 2-A state playoffs.
Scoring three runs in the second to ease any postseason nerves, the Golden Eagles coasted into the second round beating Mount Pleasant 5-1 at East. Brooke Walser was calm and collected in the circle, striking out four with no earned runs while yielding only four hits. Ally Wike drove in two runs on two hits and Brooklyn Hopkins added two hits and an RBI.
After having their schedule altered last Friday due to rain before the CCC title, head coach Amanda Akins made sure her girls followed their regular routine before Wednesday's tilt.
“They were on and ready to go today,” said Akins. “I had them in 30 minutes early so they could get ready at their own pace. They were in their groove and did not get out of it. We went so hard since we started earlier today. I am real proud that every single one of them went full-fledged the entire night.”
After leaving a runner in scoring position in the first inning, East would not let their threat in the second slip away.
Bayley Plummer began by reaching on a throwing error by Mount Pleasant third baseman Jordan Coley. A Sydney Bowles infield single put two on with no outs, setting up an opportunity for Kaitlyn Powell to sacrifice bunt them over. That is exactly what she did, but the Eagles got even more out of it. A throw came over to third from first in an attempt to get Plummer in a rundown. It did not work, as the sophomore rumbled home and slid in safely. Powell reached third during the action and was brought in on Wike's booming shot to the gap in right-center. Hopkins dropped down an infield single to score Wike, providing East a fairly comfortable margin at 3-0.
“Scoring runs early helped Brooke to relax and helped our defense relax,” said Akins. “Tonight we were consistent throughout the game and everybody was relaxed.”
The only time East faced any real trouble came in the top half of the fourth. Whitney Miller singled to center to start the inning for the Tigers. After a sacrifice bunt, Allison Atwood hit a grounder to Plummer at third. Instead of getting the sure out at first, Plummer fired to second as Miller strayed off the bag. The throw rolled all the way to the outfield fence to allow Miller to the score. Atwood wound up a third, but Walser struck out Lauren Hartsell and got Savannah Shirley to line out to leave her stranded.
East (16-6) added to its lead in the home half. Wike spun an infield single by the second baseman to score Bowles. East made it 5-1 in the fifth, started by an Andrea Grant double to right. Courtesy runner Sarah Bowles took over and moved to third on a sacrifice fly. She traveled the final 60 feet on Morgan Key's ground out to the shortstop.
It was an all-around solid performance by a club that wanted to bounce back from its sub-par performance a game ago.
“We went back after the conference championship and worked on mechanics and fundamentals, situations and hitting,” Akins said. “We worked on everything again to learn from what we did wrong.”
The Eagles will host North Surry on Saturday in the second round. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m. Mount Pleasant ends the year 15-7.
Sports Editor Zach Kepley can be reached at 888-3631, or firstname.lastname@example.org.