First Posted: 6/5/2009
RALEIGH Normally the phrase lets play two applies to two separate games. East Surry softball found a different meaning Friday, losing an epic 14-inning showdown the equivalent of two games with Swain County in the Cardinals first game of the NCHSAA 1A state softball championships. Swain won, 1-0, avenging two losses to the Cardinals in last seasons state tournament.
A pitchers duel from the start, the two opposing starters combined for 52 strikeouts in 28 combined innings. East Surry starter Hayley Shelton, who had been unhittable for the Cards in four earlier playoff appearances, put together a valiant effort in the loss. Shelton went the distance and struck out a jaw-dropping 29 batters.
But it was Swain County pitcher Shelby Parker who had the last laugh, knocking the game-winning hit to the left field fence. Parker was no slouch on the mound for the Lady Devils, striking out 23 batters of her own.
Youve got to score runs if you are going to win, Cardinal coach Derrick Hill said. Haley did her part. I mean, she struck out 29 hitters, and when you play 14 innings youd think you would score a run somewhere, We just couldnt push one across.
East threatened several times but couldnt find the formula to get by Parker. Shelton picked the Cardinals out of a jam in several innings, including striking out the final two batters in one inning with the bases loaded.
Obviously dejected following a heartbreaking loss, the Cardinals then went on to face Jamesville, which fell to North Johnston during its opening-game matchup.
After Shelton pitched the equivalent of two games in one, Hill opted for senior pitcher Anna Mitchell against Jamesville.
Mitchell didnt disappoint, mowing through the Jamesville lineup to lead the way in a 5-0 Cardinals win, this time in the allotted seven innings.
East finally shook the bad luck at the plate in the top of the third inning when senior Courtney Simmons led things off by reaching first and moving to second on a steal.
With two outs, Easts Morgan Chilton picked up an RBI double to score Simmons, setting the table for a two-run homer by Sam Smith to make it 3-0 in favor of the Cards heading into the bottom of the third.
Smith added a triple two innings later, which kept the Jamesville pitcher off-balance and allowed the Cards to end the night 1-1.
East Surry now has a chance at revenge on Swain County, which fell to North Johnston in its second game of the night to set up a rematch at 11 a.m. for the right to play North Johnston in the final series. The loser of the 11 a.m. game is eliminated, and the winner will then have to defeat North Johnston twice to take the title.
They dont want to go home, Hill said of his team. We are behind the eight ball now. We have to win three in a row tomorrow, and if we do that well be fine.