Prep Softball: Grkman, Carson end season
By Marny Hendrick
CONCORD — In the second round of the state 3A softball play-offs, the last thing you want to do is give your opponent free bases and second chances.
That is how it played out for the Carson Cougars, Tuesday night however, as they dropped an 8-2 decision at J.M. Robinson. The Bulldogs didn’t really need any help as they came in as the top seed from the South Piedmont conference and now stand 23-2 heading into round three this Friday.
By the fourth inning Carson trailed 5-0, with four of the runs unearned, and were unable to come up with a clutch hit of their own.
“It certainly wasn’t our best game,” Cougar coach Dee Miller stated. “But you’ve gotta make plays in the big games and we just didn’t do it.”
Carson ended their season 16-7 and also closed out a stellar high school career for center fielder Sydney Grkman, the only senior on the current team. She went out with a bang going two for four with a booming home run that drove in the team’s only two runs of the game. It closed out the season for the UNC-G signee with a batting average just under .500, 10 home runs and 33 RBI’s.
“It has been great,” Grkman said afterward. “Overall I am proud of our team for what we accomplished. I know they are going to do great next year and I believe in them 100 percent.”
As for her long homer to center in the top of the fifth, it cut the lead to 5-2 and resulted from frustration from her previous at-bat. Carson trailed 2-0 in the third but had two on and one out. Grkman got under the pitch a little too much and flew out to center.
“I was dropping my hands so the next time I knew I had to get up there and fix it,” she said. “ I got a good piece of the ball and it went where I wanted it to go.”
Carson missed their best opportunity to get back in it in the third, then watched it slip away in the fourth with three more unearned runs scored by the Bulldogs on two walks, a hit batter and an error. At the same time, Robinson pitcher Keleigh Romine was racking up strikeouts in key moments to keep the Cougars from coming back. She ended up with 12 strikeouts while walking only one. Losing pitcher Lacee Hunsucker had five strikeouts but walked three and hit a pair of batters, plus her defense committed three errors. Both pitchers allowed eight hits.
“We had some good bunts, moved base runners and had some timely hits tonight,” Bulldog coach Jim Allen. Yet he credited his daughter Tara, a pitcher at Winthrop, with providing a big assist. When Carson and Robinson met earlier this year, the Bulldogs won 3-1 but also fanned 12 times against Hunsucker.
“We needed to simulate that and you can’t do it with a machine so I asked my daughter to come up and throw batting practice this week.” Allen said. “It really helped us get ready.”
Robinson now advances to Round 3 of the 3A playoffs against North Iredell of the NPC. It will be the third year in a row the two teams have met in round three.
Grkman’s two hits and two RBI led Carson while Jana Bradshaw overcame injuries to her ankle and hand to pound a pair of doubles. Kaycee Kennedy also had two hits from her lead-off spot.
Topping the Bulldogs were Alyssa Sciaudone with three hits, Romine with two and Chelsie Grazier with a two run single in the fifth that neutralized Grkman’s homer. They added one more run in the sixth on two hits and a sacrifice fly to close it out at 8-2.