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County High Schools open softball playoffs!
May 17, 2011Purnell Swett High School
Rams, others open softball playoffs by Shawn Stinson The Robesonian
Josey Oxendine and Purnell Swett hope for a repeat of last year's playoff run, when the Rams reached the fourth round.slideshow
PEMBROKE - Yogi Berra may have coined the phrase, "It's like deja vu, all over again," and the Purnell Swett softball team is experiencing it right now.
This year, Purnell Swett earned the second seed out of the Southeastern Conference and will host E.A. Laney in the opening round of the 4A state playoffs at 6 p.m. today. If the Rams are victorious, more then likely they will be on the road against West Johnston for the second round.
Last season, the Rams were the No. 3 seed out of the SEC and after a home game against East Chapel Hill in the first round, they hit the road for the next two contests.
"It's a very similar path," Purnell Swett coach James Graves said. "The biggest difference is the quality of the opponents we may have to play if the top teams win. I think it will be more difficult this time."
The Rams (16-6) and the Buccaneers (15-6) are familiar with each other, having played each other twice during the regular season. The teams split the season series, with each team winning on the road.
"They're a solid team," Graves said. "They play good defense, their pitcher throws very good and they put the bat on the ball. We need to try and make some plays, get some runs and take some runs away from them."
Four other county softball teams will make their debuts today as well, but only one of them will be on the road - Lumberton.
The Pirates, the SEC's No. 4 seed, will travel to Leesville Road (20-4) to face the second seeded team out of the CAP-8. The game is scheduled for 5:15 p.m.
If this sounds familiar, it should because the Lumberton baseball team battled the Pride in the first round of the baseball playoffs.
Despite being the only local school forced to travel today, Lumberton coach Hannah Baffaro feels confident about her team's chances.
"We are excited about making the state playoffs," Baffaro said. "Leesville Road is a good team with a decent pitcher. We have been practicing hard and are ready to face the challenge. If we play solid defense, hit the ball and avoid the big inning, we should do well."
The winner of the Lumberton-Leesville Road contest will face the victor between Person and Middle Creek.
The No. 1 2A seed from the Three Rivers Conference, St. Pauls, will open its postseason at 6 p.m. against Granville Central, the No. 4 team out of the Carolina 10. The Bulldogs finished the regular season at 13-8, while the Panthers are 14-9.
"We have practiced hard all week and I hope it reflects today," St. Pauls coach Jennifer White said. "If we hit the ball, we will be fine."
The Bulldogs or the Panthers will battle the winner of the Eastern Randolph-Trinity contest. If Eastern Randolph is victorious, then it will host the second round matchup against the Bulldogs. However, if Trinity were to win, then St. Pauls would host the game.
The county's other 2A team, Fairmont, will host Corinth Holders at 7 p.m. The Golden Tornadoes (4-15) are the second seed from the TRC, while the Pirates (14-5) grabbed the No. 3 seed in the Northern Carolina Conference.
The winner of the South Granville-Roanoke Rapids clash will face Fairmont or Corinth Holders in the second round.
South Robeson (13-9) takes to the field at 6 p.m. against Heide Trask (13-9). The Mustangs earned the No. 2 1A seed from the TRC, while the Titans snagged the fifth seed out of the Tri-County Conference.
The victor will take on either Pamlico or North Duplin in the second round.
Other first-round contests include: wildcard entrant James Kenan travels to face East Columbus, the TRC regular season champion; West Columbus, the No. 3 1A seed out of the TRC, will play host to Dixon, the No. 4 seed from the Coastal Plains; Harnett Central, the No. 5 team out of the Greater Neuse River Conference visits SEC regular season and tournament champions Scotland; and Richmond, the SEC's No. 3 seed, travels to Apex, the third seed from the Tri-Nine.
South Robeson, the county's only remaining baseball team in the state playoffs, will travel to Dixon at 7 p.m.
The Mustangs knocked off Pender 8-3 Friday night, while the Bulldogs edged Rosewood 4-1 Thursday. The winner of tonight's contest will face either Midway or Jones in the district round.