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Prep baseball playoffs tonight

Staff report
South Rowan’s Linn Williams will be limited to bus-driving duties as the Raiders open the 3A playoffs at R-S Central in Rutherfordton tonight at 7 p.m.
Williams, serving a suspension for an ejection, believes he can handle U.S. 74 and U.S. 221 on the way to Rutherfordton, but the Raiders (16-8) may have a tougher time maneuvering around the Hilltoppers (21-3). They are led by pitcher Ryan Arrowood.
“We know we’ll have our hands full,” Williams said. “Their pitcher strikes about two per inning, and they’ve got a lot of guys who have hit three or four home runs.”
Pitching coach Thad Chrismon will pilot the Raiders. He’ll give the ball to either Jordan Lowder (4-3) or Ryan Bostian (5-3).
The pitching was solid until last week, when the Raiders lost 12-10 to West Rowan and 12-6 to North Iredell. They finished the regular season on a three-game slide.
“We’d gone all season without giving up 10 runs to anyone ó then boom,” Williams said.
South has a potent offense.
Sophomore second baseman Maverick Miles is batting .421, and six Raiders have stolen at least 10 bases. South’s most recent strong playoff run was in 2003, when it reached the third round.
West Rowan is an underdog record-wise as it makes the haul to Waxhaw to play SPC champion Marvin Ridge this afternoon at 4:30 p.m., but most coaches feel the Falcons got a draw that gives them a pretty good chance.
Coach Mark Mennitt’s Marvin Ridge squad surprised everyone by posting a 19-4 record as a first-year school with no seniors, but the SPC doesn’t appear to be as strong as the NPC this year.
West finished fifth in the NPC, but it beat SPC No. 2 seed Piedmont.
Sophomore lefty Zack Simpson (7-2) will be on the mound for West. He has keyed the team’s late surge from 3-6 to 14-10. Marvin Ridge will probably counter with Scott Shipman.
West’s only losses since March 20 were to Mooresville, Northwest Cabarrus and East Rowan.
“We’ve gotten a little better every day,” West coach David Wright said.
West’s most recent run deep into the playoffs came in 2004, when it was state runner-up.
Talented East Rowan is one of the favorites as it opens the 3A playoffs tonight at home at 7 p.m.
East’s opponent at Staton Field is up-and-down Southwestern Randolph (11-13). SWR was down in its most recent outing, a 13-3 tournament setback to Southeast Guilford, one of the powerhouses in 3A.
The Mustangs (22-2) enter the postseason with 18 straight victories and zero losses to 3A teams. They have five capable pitchers, and Corbin Shive (8-0) is expected to start tonight.
The Mustangs’ first three hitters ó Justin Roland, Trey Holmes and Micah Jarrett ó have speed and power.
The Mustangs haven’t gotten past the second round of the playoffs since they reached the state semifinals in 1998. East was the last county team to win a state title, and that happened in 1995.
In 2A, Salisbury travels to Denver to play East Lincoln tonight at 7 p.m.
Salisbury enters the playoffs on its first three-game losing skid, but the Hornets have been a good road team in the playoffs.
They reached the third round in 2007 with a pair of road victories. In 2006, they won at West Stanly, which was 24-2 at the time, in the first round.
Robbie Ijames and David Ijames provide power and speed for the Hornets, who are expected to send senior Alex Britt (5-3) to the mound.
East Lincoln (15-8) made nine errors but also pounded out 15 hits in a recent game against North Lincoln, so the scoreboard may be busy.
Jessie Guice, Drew Spear or Andrew Smith will pitch for East Lincoln. Offensive leaders include R.J. Colichio, Bradley Morris and Jake Carter.
In 4A, Davie County, a No. 4 seed, appears to have gotten a favorable draw. The War Eagles have to travel to Charlotte, but they’ll take on a Harding team with a losing record.
In a 3A matchup of No. 2 seeds in Newton, Mooresville will send Aubrey Meadows to the mound against Fred T. Foard’s Chad Rothlin. Both pitchers are headed to Charlotte.
Mooresville third baseman Jordan Settle made his first start of the season Monday against West Rowan. Settle suffered an ACL injury during football season, and he has been cleared medically for only about a month.
He had four assists without a miscue in the first two innings against West, and he singled in his first at-bat.

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