Prep Softball: Panthers take care of Storm in MPC battle
The Ledford Panthers got a gutsy performance from starting pitcher Megan Hayworth and several timely hits from the middle of their order to secure a 4-2 Mid-Piedmont 3-A Conference victory over Southern Guilford on Friday.
Mary Davis and Mackenzie Cranford each went 1-for-3 with a pair of RBIs to back Hayworth, who threw a complete game — surrendering two runs on five hits — and struck out four. With the victory, the Panthers (13-3, 9-0 MPC 3-A) remained perfect in conference play.
Staying atop the MPC was anything but easy, however. After defeating the Storm 10-1 in the team’s first meeting, Ledford jumped out to a 4-0 lead early before having to hold on through the final three innings.
“They pitched really well tonight, but we were able to put the bat on the ball,” Davis said. “We had to battle, because we knew this was going to be a tougher game. We got the outs we needed.”
Southern center fielder Natalie Conrad delivered a two-run double with one out in the top of the fifth inning to cut Ledford’s four-run lead in half. After allowing her first runs of the game, Hayworth thwarted any further damage.
She stranded a pair of Storm runners at second and third base by coaxing her pitching counterpart Mohaganie Headen to pop out to shallow center field for a key second out. The hurler struck out Taylor Creed to nullify the threat.
“That’s her personality,” Panthers coach Charlie Brown said of Hayworth. “Nothing changes, and she doesn’t let things bother her. She’s only a sophomore, but we really rely on Megan. I told the girls the second time around was going to be harder. A couple key hits by our girls made me very pleased tonight.”
Headen grew stronger as the night wore on, and held the line as her team attempted to come from behind. Through six innings, she scattered seven hits and struck out five. The Storm fell to 6-7 overall, 5-4 in Mid-Piedmont Conference play.
“We’ve played excellent defense this year, we’ve had great defense; our bats have let us down some,” Southern coach John Funderburk said. “Playing them at they’re house, they’re tough. They’re solid all the way around. They’ve got speed, left-handers, they’ve got it all. They’re an excellent team.”