Local Teams Fall in First Round of State Playoffs

Sarah Johnson slashing in the batter's box.
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Independence Falls to Northern Guilford 4-3

The Lady Patriots softball team season ended in a tough loss to Northern Guilford this past week in a game they could have won on the road. The home team out-hit their opponent nine to six but could not obtain key hits when it counted most in the 4A matchup.

Indy’s Maliyah Alexander delivers a strike.

Also, their defense committed two errors at critical times in the contest allowing 2 unearned runs to score which made the difference in the final outcome of the ball game.

Northern Guilford pulled away and opened up a 2-run lead in the third inning. An error led to two unearned runs which proved to be the difference maker. The Nighthawks took the 4-2 lead into the top of the seventh inning. Independence was able to manufacture one run, however, their comeback stalled after Sarah Johnson lined a single up the middle to eventually score on a fielding error, but the Nighthawks hurler Dakota Wilkins ended the contest with her fourteenth strikeout for the victory.

Wilkins tossed 7.0 innings allowing 9 hits, 3 runs, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, and 14 strikeouts on 130 pitches. While the Patriots used two pitchers Morgan Clark, the starter tossed 3.0 innings allowing all 4 runs, 2 unearned runs, 2 walks, and 1 strikeout on 46 pitches. In relief, Maliyah Alexander hurled 3.0 innings allowing no runs, no walks, 1 hit, and 6 strikeouts on 39 pitches.

Sarah Johnson went 2-4, Emma Wrenn 2-4, Morgan Clark 2-4 with 2 RBIs for the Patriots. While Sydney Pugh, a triple and Rigdon Lambeth each had two hits for Nighthawks who will advance to the second round against Marvin Ridge.

The Independence Patriots ended their season 14-8 playing a tough non-conference schedule and within their own conference and winning the Southwestern 4A Championship for the first time since 2017 defeating their archrival Butler 4-0.

Lady Stallions Lose 7-6 to Piedmont Community Charter

The Stallions who qualified for the state playoffs for their third consecutive season fell short after a gallant come from behind comeback in the 1st Round of the NCHSAA 1A West State Playoffs Tournament 7-6.

The Patriots from Gastonia, NC built a comfortable lead 6-1 entering the top of the fifth inning. It appeared the Patriots had the game under control with a five-run advantage. However, the Stallions had other ideas and rallied scoring 5 runs to tie the ballgame at six.

In the bottom of the sixth inning Piedmont Community Charter scored 1 run to take a slim 7-6 advantage going into the final inning. With the heart of the order coming to the plate the Stallions had good reason to be optimistic. However, the 2, 3, 4 hitters went down in order on a pop up, and two routine grounders to second base ending their season.

Senior Regan Cowick finished her Stallion career going 3-for-4, 2 RBIs and a double. Alyssa Steele went 2-4 with 2 RBIs and 2 doubles. Meanwhile, Addi Benton the freshman workhorse on the mound tossed 6.0, allowing 7 hits, 3 earned runs, 3 walks and 6 strikeouts facing 33 batters.

The Stallions finished their season 16-6 and have won 43 games in the past four seasons completely turning their program around into a winner.

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Ed Berti
Ed is retired and remains active as a freelance writer, local journalist and independent contractor. He is engaged in print and electronic media writing stories covering business, sports, hometown news and veteran's affairs including articles of interest to various media outlets. Ed is a graduate of Wagner College where he earned an MBA and holds a BBA from Pace University.
Ed can be reached at ed@minthilltimes.com, eberti7777@gmail.com and linkedin.com.