Prep Softball Playoffs: Eastern Randolph 1, East Rowan 0
By Mike London
GRANITE QUARRY ó Red-eyed East Rowan first baseman Haley Barrier looked as if she’d been crying for a month, but it wasn’t quite as bad as it looked.
“Just senior stuff, makeup running a little bit,” Barrier said. “It’s gonna be OK. This was the best team I’ve ever played on, and they’ll be even better next year.”
The careers of seniors Barrier, Taylor Arey, Winter Heno and Lindsay Smith ended abruptly Friday with a 1-0 loss to Eastern Randolph in the second round of the 3A playoffs.
Eastern’s Dallas Heaton pitched a two-hitter and struck out 15 Mustangs.
East pitcher Chelsea White (eight strikeouts, no walks) was never in a jam, was on and in control from the outset, but Kailey Hill’s two-out solo homer in the sixth on a 2-2 pitch stunned the Mustangs (18-3), who hadn’t lost since March and hadn’t lost all season at home.
“I tried to adjust to her as the game went on,” said Hill who struck out and popped up in her first two at-bats. “She’s a good pitcher, but she left that one pitch hanging.”
Converging outfielders Arey and Heno could only watch Hill’s drive sail over the fence in left-center.
“Two exceptional pitchers,” Eastern Randolph coach Randall Myers said. “I was thinking we might go on and on and on with no score, but Hill’s probably been our best hitter all year. She won’t strike out much.”
East didn’t get a hit until Winter Heno slapped a single to center field with one out in the fifth. Heno stole second, but Heaton struck out Smith, walked Ericka Nesbitt on a 3-2 pitch and got Kayla Kirk on a popup to end the inning.
“We knew coming in Heaton would throw lots of riseballs, but we weren’t disciplined enough to lay off,” said East coach Mike Waddell, who was assisted by Sandy Basinger and Lonnie Barrier.
Smith and Nesbitt walked back-to-back with two out in the third, but Heaton got out of that jam with a strikeout.
Kayla Potts had East’s other hit, a single in the sixth. Mallory Drew hit two balls hard, but both went directly to Eastern Randolph outfielders. The game ended with the dangerous Nesbitt on deck.
Eastern Randolph improved to 23-4.
“We made some good defensive plays (Nesbitt turned in three gems at shortstop), but it came down to one pitch,” Waddell said. “We made a really good run, had lots of focus the last few weeks, but they were the better team today.”
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