Nash Central Falls to D.H. Conley in Fourth Round
May 28, 2011Nash Central High School
By Kent Wheeless
Greenville - The party's over for the Nash Central softball team as the D. H. Conley Vikings stopped the Bulldogs 11-2 in the fourth round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3A state tournament in Greenville last night. The Bulldogs were able to stay close in the first four innings but the Vikings got hot in the fifth, scoring six runs to take an 8-0 lead on the way to an 11-2 victory.
The Bulldogs were able to get six hit on the night, including three in the top of the sixth but could not fight back after the fifth inning onslaught by the Vikings. Vikings starting pitcher Sarah Christian went six innings and struck out eight, walked two, and gave up five hits and two earned runs as the Vikings improved their record to 23-4 and advanced to the East Regional Final next Friday at the Walnut Creek Sports Complex in Raleigh.
After both teams went in order in the first the Viking struck in the second Grace Joyner misjudges a hard hit ball by Katrina Hudson that went for a triple and she scored a sacrifice bunt by Courtney Gould. Kate Hanley followed with a single but was doubled off when when Taylor Matkins grounded to second baseman Dana Kelly.
Kelly led off the third with for the Bulldogs with a solid single but was left stranded as the next three batters went in order. The Viking threatened in the bottom of the third with a leadoff single by Lyndsey Joyner. She advanced as ninth place hitter Lauren Porter laid down a sacrifice bunt on the third base side. Back to the top of the order Shannon Adams reached on an error by third basemen Lindsey Sharpe but Joyner had to hold second. Both runners were left stranded as the next two batters went down.
The Bulldogs went in order in the fourth. The Vikings started the bottom of the fourth with a double by Hudson and she advanced to third on the sacrifice bunt by Gould. After another out Hanley singled in Hudson but that was all for the Vikings in the fourth as Joyner flied out.
In the fifth the Bulldogs tried to start a rally with one out as Kristen Shuford singled and Kelly walked but neither Grayson Bass nor Grace Joyner could get a hit to bring them home.
The fifth inning was the money frame for the Viking. Porter singled to lead off then Adams reached on an error by second baseman Kelly that allowed Porter to score. Sarah Langley hit into a fielder's choice to eliminate Adams but was followed by singles by Brittany Owens and Hudson. With the based load Gould grounded to first baseman Rachel Pearce and she threw home and got Langley on the force out at the plate but left the bases loaded. Hanley then singled to push two across the plate and was followed by a triple for Matkins to score two more. Matkins scored on a wild pitch and that would be the last pitch of the night for Grayson Bass. Lindsey Sharpe come to the circle in relief and was able to get Joyner to fly out to right field for the third out. But the damage was done as the Viking took a commanding 8-0 lead.
In the sixth the Bulldogs still had fire as they came out and did what no team had done against Conley in the post season. They scored. Leadoff Brittani Strickland was patient and drew a walk after running the count full. Caley Bass then singled followed by a double by Sharpe to score the pair. Lesley Murray lined out to first and then Pearce singled and Sharpe advance to third. Shuford then grounded to the drawn in second baseman and she immediately threw home and Sharpe got caught in a run down for the second out. Kelly struck out to end the inning and the last serious threat for the Bulldogs.
The Vikings scored three in the bottom of the sixth as the Bulldogs went a little flat. Adams and Langley both reached on Bulldog errors and then Owens singled. All three would eventually score and move the score to 11-2.
Strickland reached in the seventh with two outs but Caley Bass grounded out after fouling off four pitches to end the night as the Vikings moved on the semi-finals to meet the winner of the South Vance - SW Granville game.
Coach Smith told this team after the game that they should not be satisfied and that he expected them to go further next year and with eight returning starter including both pitchers, further is what this team is looking for.