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Prep Softball: East Rowan wins key NPC game

By Mike London
Salisbury PostGRANITE QUARRY ó A bright puddle of red formed in right field shortly after East Rowan’s softball team beat Northwest Cabarrus 5-1.
Mustangs lay flat on their bellies, listening carefully as coach Mike Waddell warned them their work wasn’t done, but the giggles and two dozen wildly kicking legs told the story.
East (15-3, 14-2) all but wrapped up its first conference championship since 1998 with Friday’s comeback win against the Trojans (15-6, 14-3). The Mustangs have an NPC home doubleheader left with last-place Statesville on Monday, but that isn’t expected to be overly stressful.
“We’re happy with today’s win, but no celebration,” Waddell said. “If we don’t come out ready to play ball on Monday, beating Northwest won’t mean a thing.”
East freshman Chelsea White struck out 10 and held Northwest to five singles, but three hits came in a row in the third, and the Trojans scored a run when charging Winter Heno bobbled Becca Faust’s single to left.
East still trailed 1-0 when it built a decisive rally with five straight singles and scored three runs in the fifth.
“Four of our first five batters struck out today, and I was wondering if we’d ever start to hit,” Waddell said. “But then we started getting the bat on the ball a little.”
With one out in the fifth, Heno beat out a roller to shortstop on a very close play. Lindsay Smith singled, one of her three hits, and Ericka Nesbitt slapped a single to left to load the bases.
Taylor Arey, who was been limited recently by a hand she severely cut on a garage door, then delivered a soft single to right over a drawn-in infield to make it 1-1.
“It was a nerve-wracking game,” Arey said. “But we all stayed in it, cheering for each other. My hand wasn’t that bad. I knew we’d be all right.”
Then Haley Barrier singled to score Smith and Nesbitt.
“We knew the bats were going to wake up today,” Barrier said. “We’ve had some rough games lately, but we knew this was the one we had to win.”
East added two insurance runs in the sixth when Smith singled in Mallory Drew, and pinch-runner Kayla Kirk scored on a throwing error on a pickoff attempt at third.
Heno grabbed a line drive in the sixth, and Nesbitt and Drew gobbled up routine groundballs in the seventh.
White made the lead stand up and was mobbed by teammates when she ended the game with a strikeout.
“East didn’t hit many solid shots,” Northwest coach Lori Treiber said. “But that one inning, they just got their hits one right after another.”

Contact Mike London at 704-797-4259 or mlondon@salisburypost.com.

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