Prep Softball: D.H. Conley 4, East Rowan 3
By Ryan Bisesi
RALEIGH — East Rowan isn’t going to do things the easy way.
The work is cut out for the Mustangs, who walked off Field 3 at Walnut Creek Softball Complex Friday night disappointed after letting a 3-0 lead slip away against D.H. Conley in a 4-3 loss to the Vikings, who are one game away from a state championship.
Kori Adams lined a 1-2 pitch from Chelsea White into left field to score Taylor Matkins with two out in the bottom of the seventh to give East just its third loss of the season.
But there’s no time the let the sting set in.
East will face Southern Vance today at 11 a.m. for the right to stay alive. Southern Vance’s Jordan Garrett threw a no-hitter and struck out 13 in a 6-0 wins against Shelby Crest in the losers bracket game.
“This one’s going to hurt a little bit,” East coach Mike Waddell said. “We’re going to need to refocus and come back tomorrow playing our best ball.”
East will have to win three straight games tomorrow in order to take home a state title. It’s a situation the Mustangs were in last year after beating Crest and falling in the second game to Southwestern Randolph.
Conley didn’t play a great game, committing three errors and allowing East to take command early. The Vikings never led until the end.
White singled to lead off the top of the fourth and Heather Trexler came on to pinch run. Trexler scored the first run of the game on a high throw to first from shortstop Katarina Hudson.
Steffi Sides led off the fifth with a single that nearly took the head off of Conley pitcher Sarah Christian. After Jesse Rummage went down on strikes, Ericka Nesbitt slapped one down the left field line to put runners and first and second with one out. Kayla Kirk bunted in the hole between short and third to load the bases. White would strike out, but catcher Bobbi Thomas stayed alive facing a 1-2 count and hit one that reached the outfield in right, plating two runs for a 3-0 edge.
“You have to feel good with a 3-0 lead,” Waddell said. “They were able to put some pressure on us.”
Flex player Courtney Lyerly threw out Sarah Hanley at the plate to end the second inning. Sarah Hanley, who ran for catcher Kate Hanley, tried to score from a second on a line drive to left field.
“That was a big play for us,” Waddell said.
The game-winner was Adams’ third hit of the night from the leadoff spot. Adams fouled off three straight pitches before slicing one to left to end it. Matkins led off the bottom of the seventh and went to first when she claimed she was hit by the pitch. East protested that the ball hit her bat and won the argument, although she wasn’t off the bases for long. Matkins got her second hit on an opposite-field shot to put the winning run on.
She was sacrificed over to second and third with bunts before Adams’ heroics.
“That’s just characteristic of this team,” Conley coach Wayne Deans said. “They’re not going to give up and they’re going to keep fighting. We’ve not talked about a state championship all season long. We’ve just been trying to get better.”
Conley was a 5-0 winner against Southern Vance in its opening game.
Christian threw a complete game and got stronger as the night wore on. She retired the final eight batters and overcame three Viking errors, totaling 102 pitches, striking out nine and walking one. White equaled her counterpart, except for claiming one less out. White, who boasted a 0.47 ERA coming into Friday, also struck out nine and gave up three earned runs in 92 pitches.
Waddell hopes she at least three more games in her high school career. East, who cruised through the NPC and didn’t allow a run until the fourth round of the playoffs, finds itself on the brink.
“When you get to this level, you know teams are going to be tough and you’ve got to bring your A game every game,” Waddell said. “For five out of seven innings there, we played our A game.”