Pittman plays hero, Jags down Chargers, 3-2
By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector
Tuesday, May 7, 2019
Kenya Pittman’s late-game single, combined with a critical error by 20th-seeded Ayden-Grifton gave rival and 13-seed Farmville Central a walk-off victory, 3-2, and a ticket to the second round of the 2-A softball state playoffs Tuesday.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Pittman (1-3) was called safe on first base by mere inches before Ava Loper stepped up to bat. By the time Loper had swung on her first pitch, Pittman was nearly halfway to second base. The throw to second slipped past the Chargers’ second baseman and into the outfield as Pittman rounded third and crossed home plate for the win, as an energetic Jaguars team was there to greet her.
“We were just fortunate to play them at home,” Jaguars head coach Shawn Talbott said. “With the pitching and defensive performance we had tonight and the past few games, we can hang with anybody.”
Pittman was a big part of the defensive battle, staying active in left field. In the circle, Abby Foster picked up the win in a complete game. She gave up 10 hits, one walk and one earned run. Offensively, Kate Lancaster provided the bulk of the work, finishing 2-for-3, smacking a double, scoring two runs and earning a stolen base.
The Chargers trailed 2-0 heading into the sixth inning, looking for a late rally to save their season. An error on a throw to third scored Kim Gurkins (1-for-3, R, SB) and Haven Cannon to score and tie the game. A-G nearly took the lead, but a tough double play starting from a flyout to right field and ending with a throw to the plate held the Chargers.
A-G finished the season with a 14-8 overall record, going 8-4 in 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference play. The squad returns every player from this year’s squad, while adding some rising freshmen that have caught head coach Casey Matthis’ eye.
“I think we had a great season,” Matthis said. “It’s one of those things where we talked about in the beginning, it’s about making small improvements. All of our girls are very good fundamentally. They do what’s asked of them, but it’s about doing the little things when they count. With the conference we’re in, it’s a tough conference. Last year, we finished fourth, this year we finished third, which is improvement. We’ll get some (current) eighth graders next year to add to the talent we already have. I’m very excited.”
With the win, the Jaguars face a big test in the second round when they will hit the road to face fourth-seeded East Randolph.
“We know each round the competition is going to get better,” Talbott said. “We’ve got to continue to make plays and we need to continue to compete at a high level.”
Contact Jake Keator at email@example.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter.
D.H. Conley 23, Westover 1 (five innings)
One-seed D.H. Conley had no trouble defeating 32-seeded Westover to open the Vikings’ 3-A state playoff run.
Head coach Wayne Deans was proud of his squad’s effort, but aims to quickly move the focus to the next round.
“It’s one and done. From personal experience, we had a humbling loss a couple of years ago against Pine Forest,” Deans said. “We want to play our best ball starting right now and we don’t want to take anything for granted. We’re not promised tomorrow, so it’s about enjoying these moments of the season.”
Greene Central 13, South Lenoir 7
No. 22-seed Greene Central opened the 2-A playoffs with a big upset, topping 11-seed and 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference opponent South Lenoir.
It was the first time this season the Rams had defeated SL.
GC will travel to face six-seed Currituck County on Friday.
D.H. Conley 14, Eastern Alamance 1 (5 inn.)
After losing a tough game to a great New Bern team in its conference tournament finale, D.H. Conley looked to focus in on a state playoff run. The second-seeded Vikings’ opening-round matchup with No. 31 Eastern Alamance was a good place to start.
Jason Mills’ team made quick work of the Eagles on Tuesday in a 14-1, five-inning win. This win ensure they will host the second round of the 3-A playoffs.
“Friday was a good tuneup for us,” Mills said after the game. “New Bern is a great team, but even with that loss we still have the ultimate goal of going deep in the playoffs. I thought we did a good job of taking advantage of some situations tonight.”
The Vikings jumped on the visiting Eagles early. Cam Jackson got things going with a leadoff single. After the bases got loaded, Josh McCarter’s RBI single opened the scoring.
They batted around in the first inning while adding two base- loaded walks and a wild pitch scoring a run. Jackson’s RBI single in his second plate appearance of the inning gave the Vikings a 6-0 lead early.
Freshman pitcher Matthew Matthijs was on his game early. He set the tone with a quick 1-2-3 top of the first and went four scoreless innings for the win on the mound.
After a scoreless second inning, Conley picked up right where it left off with another bases-loaded walk drawn by Robbie O’Neal. McCarter got hit by a pitch to add another run and the rout was on.
“Matthew is great for us,” Mills added. “He’s shown great maturity for a freshman pitcher. We took a risk today by starting him in Round One after the conference title game, but he did a good job tonight and he has a bright future for us.”
Conley scored six more runs in the bottom of the fourth to add to its big lead. However, the Vikings couldn’t preserve the shutout after an error on what would have been the final out allowed an Eagles baserunner to score in the top of the fifth.
Nonetheless, the Vikings picked up a big win to start the playoffs, and it sets up a rivalry matchup with No. 18 J.H. Rose.
The Rampants and Vikings will face off again at Hollywood Crossroads on Friday night. Ronald Vincent’s team is coming off of a 15-3 road win over No. 15 Orange County in six innings.
Ayden-Grifton 11, North Lenoir 1
The Chargers ended 2-A ECC opponent and 13-seeded North Lenoir’s season Tuesday, winning the season-long series, 2-1.
A-G will travel to face four-seed Washington Friday.
Greene Hope 4, South Central 1
No. 24-seed South Central saw its season come to a close Tuesday after falling on the road at Green Hope.
The Falcons finished the season 7-16, 3-9 in the 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference and graduate lone senior Cole Puckett.
North Johnston 9, North Pitt 1
No. 21-seed North Pitt could not hold off North Johnston, as the Panthers’ season ended in the first round.
The Panthers end the season with a 16-8 overall record, 5-5 in 2-A Eastern Plains Conference play.
NP will graduate two stellar seniors, Ruben Beltran and Davidson-commit Jacob Peaden.
J.H. Rose 15, Orange 3 (6 inn.)
No. 18-seed J.H. Rose dispatched of 15-seed Orange on the road Tuesday, finishing the job in six innings.
The Rampants will see a very familiar opponent in Friday’s second round in Conley, which won both regular season meetings between the 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference foes.
Dixon 8, Greene Central 6
The 23-seeded Rams couldn’t overcome 10-seed Dixon on the road Tuesday.
GC will graduate nine seniors: Dylan Benton, Trey Fields, Jalin Conner, AJ Dupree, Cody Lanier, Darren Barefoot, Payton Collins, Alex Tyson and Walker Sutton.
D.H. Conley 5, Topsail 0
Top-seeded DHC dominated 32-seed Topsail in what was a three-sport sweep for the Vikings Tuesday night at Hollywood Crossroads.
The Vikings will host 16-seed Southern Lee on Friday. The Cavaliers defeated 17-seeded J.H. Rose in Round One.
Bunn 6, Farmville Central 2
A highly successful season for the nine-seed Jaguars came to a close at the hands of 24-seed Bunn.
Corinne Denham and Maria Nunez notched goals for the Jags, while Lauryn Pitt earned an assist.
FC will graduate three seniors in Emily Monroe, Zion Shepard and Kristine May.
Parrot Academy upsets St. David’s
APA pulled off a major upset at the EPIC Championships Tuesday afternoon as the Patriots defeated St. David’s.
Colby Tant’s career-low of 71 led APA, while Matthew Richardson (72), Jackson Crocker (76) and Drew Greene (79) also had strong outings.
The Patriots will compete in the state competition next week in Greensboro.