PREVIEW: Seven locals in second round
By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector
Friday, May 10, 2019
The second round of matchups for area high school baseball, softball and soccer teams is set to kick off tonight. Following is a look at each game. Area teams finished 7-6 in first-round games Tuesday night.
No. 18 J.H. Rose at No. 2 D.H. Conley
The third meeting of 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference and crosstown rivals is set to kick off at Conley tonight.
If you’re looking for a pitching duel, be prepared when you head out to watch this game, as standouts Clay Stanley of JHR and Viking ace Matthew Matthijs are sure to make appearances.
The Rampants’ mix of experience and youth is perfectly blended with breakout freshmen like Micheal Allen getting on base so others, such as senior Grant Charles Jarman can bring home runs.
Conley will continue to rely on the front end of its lineup for early momentum, including outfielder Cam Jackson and shortstop Jake Lysaght. Jackson is on a roll both at the plate and in the field, where he uses his speed and high-flying catches to put away batters.
PREDICTION: It will be another tight game, but Conley eliminates its crosstown rival and advances to Round Three. The winner will face the victor of seventh-seeded Jacksonville and 10-seed Western Harnett.
No. 20 Ayden-Grifton at No. 4 Washington
It will be another 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference test for Ayden-Grifton Friday night, as they travel to face conference winner Washington.
The Chargers defense has been the key to success this season, and it will need to continue if they hope to knock off the conference champion.
Catcher and power hitter Brandon Benfield will be vital to help jump-start the A-G offense.
On the mound for the Pam Pack, senior Hunter Hall enters with a 9-0 record in 12 appearances, along with a team-best ERA by a starter at 1.18.
PREDICTION: The Chargers come out with hot bats, but can’t keep up with Washington, falling in the second round. If the Chargers win, they will face either fifth-seed Currituck County or 12-seed North Johnston.
No. 16 Orange at No. 1 D.H. Conley
After demolishing 31-seeded Westover 22-1 in five innings Tuesday, Conley walks in a big favorite once again against Orange.
The Vikings’ lineup is filled with skilled batters, but head coach Wayne Deans is looking for improvement on the defensive end.
DHC also has a large selection of talented pitchers to choose from, including Lauren Wiles and Lexi Vincent.
PREDICTION: Conley rolls to another blowout. The Vikings would then face the winner of eight-seed Southern Nash and nine-seed Harnett Central.
No. 13 Farmville Central at No.4 Eastern Randolph
Farmville Central ended rival Ayden-Grifton’s season Tuesday after a late Kenya Pittman score.
Jaguars batters struggled and will need to rebound quickly if they want to hold up against an Eastern Randolph team that won the PAC 7 conference.
PREDICTION: The Jaguars fall to Wildcats, ending their season and the career of stolen bases record holder Kate Lancaster.
No. 22 Greene Central at No. 6 Currituck County
The Rams will be another team facing an uphill battle to move into the third round.
The Knights thoroughly dominated every opponent in the regular season thanks to a potent offense and stellar pitching.
The Rams will need everyone to work together, especially senior leader Kaitlin Uzzell, who holds a .470 batting average.
PREDICTION: Greene Central ends its run in the second round.
No. 16 Middle Creek at No. 1 South Central
After a first-round bye, the Falcons will open the playoffs tonight at home.
SC is a heavy favorite due to a mix of speedy players such as Madison Deanes and power in the bats from Amya Evans and Marissa Roach.
PREDICTION: South Central advances after a quick and decisive win over the Mustangs.
No. 16 Southern Lee at No. 1 D.H. Conley
Southern Lee will return to Pitt County for the second time this week after defeating 17-seed J.H. Rose on Tuesday, 3-1.
The Vikings’ experience and depth will play a large role, with wings who are just as strong as passers as they are shooters.
PREDICTION: Conley wraps up another win, as the squad defeats Southern Lee.
Contact Jake Keator at firstname.lastname@example.org, 252-329-9594 and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter.