NPC Softball Championship:
By Ryan Bisesi
OLIN — Carson’s softball team won its second-straight North Piedmont Conference tournament in an 8-0 victory against East Rowan Friday at North Iredell. Sidney Grkman doubled twice and Morgan Peninger homered as the Cougars knocked off the league’s top seed going into the playoffs.
“When we play like a family, good things happen and it showed this week,” Carson coach Dee Miller said. “We looked together.”
Carson pitcher Lacee Hunsucker provided another beauty from the circle. After pitching all 10 innings of the Cougars’ 6-3 triumph against North Iredell on Thursday, Hunsucker bared down and went the distance again. The sophomore right-hander allowed just five hits and one walk while striking out six.
“I was determined to get a shutout,” said Hunsucker.
Hunsucker shook off some sicknesses from earlier in the day and repeated her performance from last year’s NPC title game where she shut down North Iredell.
“She knows I’m going to tell her to suck it up,” Miller said. “She’s been in that place before.”
Peninger hit the first home run of her prep career and drove in a team-best three RBIs. The junior second baseman turned on the first pitch she saw from Sydney Poole and whacked it over the left field fence in the third inning to make it 2-0.
“I wanted to prove myself and get my team going,” Peninger said. “We wanted it so bad.”
The teams split the regular season with East taking the last game but Hunsucker didn’t allow the Mustangs to get to her this time. She escaped jams in the third and fifth innings.
“The other two games we’ve been able to hit her,” East coach Mike Waddell said. “Whenever we did get chances we got them with two outs. ”
Jana Bradshaw led off the second with a walk and was sacrificed over to third by two bunts. Kinsley Bean’s single just over left side of the East infield brought in the game’s first run.
After Peninger homered with one out in the third, Grkman doubled on the first pitch and scored on a wild pitch. Mariah Morgan blooped one to shallow left to make it 4-0.
In the fourth, Rachel Freeze singled and Kaycee Kennedy reached on a fielder’s choice to set the stage for Peninger to come through again. She was decisive on the first pitch again, hitting a double to plate two. Kinsley Bean narrowly missed a home run on a RBI double in the sixth and Grkman drove in the final run in the sixth.
East won the NPC regular season and defeated South Rowan 11-1 Thursday after receiving a bye to the semifinal.
It was Carson’s third game this week, which started with a 8-2 win against West Iredell.
“They’ve been in the situation last year,” Miller said. “Three games in a row you know have to play. You just do your job.”