PLAYOFF PREVIEW: Round three
By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector
Monday, May 13, 2019
Four Pitt County teams remain in the hunt for a state championship as the second week of the spring state playoffs begins.
D.H. Conley remains at the forefront with three teams looking to advance to the fourth round in games on Tuesday and Wednesday night. The South Central softball team also is looking to continue its run with a rematch of last year’s 4-A East Regional final on the horizon.
No. 7 Jacksonville at No. 2 D.H. Conley
After completing a season sweep of crosstown rival J.H. Rose in the second round, the Vikings are feeling good entering their third round contest with Jacksonville.
A loaded lineup continued to shine against the Rampants, including outfielder and Pitt Community College commit Cam Jackson, who scored two runs in DHC’s 6-3 win on Friday.
Jacksonville brings a few strong batters of its own, including freshman Trent Murchinson, who currently has a .369 batting average . Senior ace Cade Anderson is the likely starter for the Cardinals. With a record of 9-2 and an ERA of just 1.57 over 53.2 innings pitched, it will be a difficult task for Conley to find contact off Anderson.
PREDICTION: Conley continues its playoff run, sneaking by in a tight contest. The Vikings will face the winner of three-seed Fike and sixth-seed Southern Lee.
No. 9 Harnett Central at No. 1 D.H. Conley
DHC played one of its tightest games of the season when it defeated 16-seeded Orange, 2-1.
From top to bottom, the Vikings are one of the most well-rounded teams in the playoffs, with a strong mix of speed and power at the plate and plenty of options to pitch, Conley will look to keep the streak of perfect nights at home alive.
Like Orange, Harnett Central looks to be a a tough opponent on paper. The 3-A Tri-County Conference champions will be feeling confident after a 10-2 blowout upset of eight-seed Southern Nash in the second round.
PREDICTION: Harnett Central may be confident, but so are the Vikings. Conley rolls into the third round where the Vikings will host the winner of 4-seed Topsail and 5-seed Southern Alamance.
No. 8 Jack Britt at No. 1 South Central
A rematch of the 2018 4-A East Regional final will take place in Winterville as the defending state champion Buccaneers look to once again prematurely end a dominant Falcons season.
Last year, the 8-seed Bucs swept the 2-seed Falcons 2-0. This time around, it’s just one winner-take-all game to decide who will advance.
Both sides return very similar rosters this time around with new senior leaders, but both have also lost powerful batters. For SC, that included Reflector All-County Batter of the Year Cam Davis. Shortstop Madison Deanes now holds her leadership role.
Jack Britt graduated Rayven Shepard, and she has been replaced sophomore Carlie Myrtle, who enters the match-up with a .509 batting average.
PREDICTION: South Central gets revenge on the Bucs, knocking out the defending champions. They will face the winner of fifth-seed South View and fourth-seed Hoggard.
No. 9 Chapel Hill vs No. 1 D.H. Conley
DHC enters the third round having not allowed a single goal in the playoffs, but the same goes for Chapel Hill.
After upsetting 8-seed New Hanover, the Tigers are looking to knock off another powerhouse in Conley.
The key to victory in the postseason for DHC has been the outstanding goalkeeping by Maeve English, combined with coordinated attacks by Haven Best, Jenna Rupp and Gabby Kirkman.
PREDICTION: Conley rolls past Chapel Hill and onto the fourth round, where the Vikings will face the winner of fourth-seed Terry Sanford and fifth-seed Clayton.
Contact Jake Keator at firstname.lastname@example.org, 252-329-9594 and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter.