By Mike London
CONCORD Central Cabarrus is ranked fourth nationally, while East Rowan finished fourth in the CPC.
Had to be serious mismatch in the second round of the 4A softball playoffs, right?
Well, yes and no.
Central (28-0) was never in danger in a 5-0 victory, but fans who paid five bucks didnt get cheated. East (15-9) started miserably but matched zeroes with the Vikings after the second inning.
Sophomore pitcher Haley Barrier kept East close, scattering seven hits and getting stronger as the game went along.I was shaky the first couple innings, but then I got calm and got a rhythm, Barrier explained.
Central Cabarrus junior Morgan Peeler, who played two years at East, struck out 10 and pitched a four-hit shutout. She fanned nine of the first 14 she faced.
It was an experience, emotional, Peeler said. If I had a choice, I wouldnt have chosen to play East, but it happened. Ive never had to do anything like that before.
I did my best, and East did very well.
Centrals Monte Sherrill, the ex-Marine who coaches each game with foxhole intensity, understood it wasnt a routine game.
Morgan didnt come out quite as strong as she normally does, but she still pitched a pretty great ballgame, he said. Facing the old ballclub isnt easy. Theres a fine line between being over-pumped and staying in control.East hitters were determined Peeler wasnt going to set any records. Barrier walked on a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the first to end perfect-game possibilities, and Rebecca Cooper followed with a clean single to left to end the no-hit bid. But Peeler whipped a fastball past Kelsea Kluttz to end the threat.
Peeler retired 13 straight hitters between Kayla Potts infield single leading off the second and Shanunda Carrolls liner off Peelers glove with one out in the sixth.
After Carrolls hit, Barrier reached on an error. Cooper then blooped what couldve been a single to right, but the Vikings alertly got a forceout at second to kill the rally.
Barrier nearly got out of the first inning unscathed when Pam Wade bounced to Cooper at shortstop with the bases loaded and two outs. Coopers throw to first was in the dirt. Atalie Frick made a nice scoop but was pulled off the bag and the Vikings were on the board.
Central had a 3-0 lead after East catcher Kayla Potts tried to pick a runner off first, and the ball skipped into right field.
We get three, and were going to come out on top every time, Sherrill said.
Not bragging, just fact.
Central made it 5-0 in the second when Chasity Covington crushed a two-run homer, the 20th longball of her career. Barrier said it was a curveball that just didnt curve.
There was no more scoring.
Partly it was Central looking ahead to a grudge match with North Davidson, the team that ended its 83-game winning streak. Partly it was East settling down, having better at-bats and making defensive plays. East left fielder Winter Heno made a diving catch in the fifth that was as good as youll ever see.
Just gorgeous, Barrier said. Highlight reel.
East coach Mike Waddell is looking forward to more highlight-reel plays in 2008. East started six sophs and a freshman. Another freshman (Whitley Barrier) usually starts, but she had breathing problems.
Young as we are, we played well after the second inning against one of the top teams in the state, Waddell said. Our girls can walk out of here feeling not too bad about themselves. This was one of my most rewarding seasons, and its something to build on.Contact Mike London at 704-797-4259 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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