High school softball: Mustangs beat Falcons, advance to third-round game on Monday

Published 2:58 am Sunday, May 12, 2024

Staff report

GRANITE QUARRY — East Rowan head softball coach Todd McNeely told his team in the pregame huddle that the second-round playoff game with West Rowan would be won with singles.

His prediction wasn’t exactly accurate, but he was happy to be proven wrong.

East beat West 6-2. The key blows weren’t singles. They were homers.

Jordan Dry and Chloe Shank hits balls over the fence in the fourth inning, as East broke a 1-all tie and took a 3-1 lead. It was a lead they kept behind freshman pitcher Madi Tigert.

“Well, we’ll take the homers when they happen,” McNeely said with a laugh. “Great team effort. The girls did what they needed to do. They’re kind of team that brings their lunch pails every night and goes to work.”

West got back to 3-2 in the fifth, but East got some breathing room in the bottom of the sixth.

The big play came with the bases loaded and one out. West’s Emma Clarke fielded a hard ground ball and threw home for the second out, but the throw from home to first got away, the ball went to the fence, and East scored two runs. Then Kori Miller got one of those singles McNeely was looking for to make it 6-2.

That’s how it ended.

Third-seeded East is 22-3, the most wins for the program since the 2011 squad went 25-4 and reached the Final Four in 3A.

West, seeded 14th, wrapped up a 20-8 season. The Falcons won 20 or more games for the third season in a row, but this has been East’s year. Half of West’s losses have been to East, with three of them coming on East’s field.

West’s only senior, Clarke, scored twice and closed the books on a historic three-sport athletic career and as the most prolific softball slugger in county history.

East plans to play its third-round game against Rockingham County at 6 p.m. on Monday, as the weather isn’t expected to be friendly on Tuesday.

Rockingham County (19-5) is seeded sixth and won 8-4 against Ledford on Friday.

The two teams seeded above East in the 3A West bracket, top-seeded Oak Grove and second-seeded Kings Mountain, also advanced on Friday.