First Posted: 5/30/2009
PILOT MOUNTAIN With a 1-0 victory over North Moore Saturday, the East Surry softball team is set to play at its home away from home: Raleigh.
Samantha Smith doubled and scored on an error in the bottom of the sixth inning, and Hayley Shelton struck out 13 while firing a one-hitter to lead the Cardinals to the NCHSAA 1A championship tournament for the fourth time in the past five years.
After mowing through opponents with regularity throughout the season, East Surry has shown its mettle by winning a pair of nail biters on consecutive days. The scores of the games are no concern to Cardinals coach Derrick Hill, as long as his squad keeps winning.
Ill take three more 1-0 ball games because if we do that were state champions, he said. Obviously youd like to score six, eight, 10 runs, but at this time of year, youre probably going to play teams youre not going to do that to.
The key to the victory was Shelton working her way out of a second-inning jam. With the bases loaded and one out, the righty struck out the next two batters with six pitches to keep the game scoreless.
She has a way of upping her performance when she gets in trouble, Hill said. Im not sure I like that, but its nice to know she has that.
The Cardinals had three hits and left six runners on base.
East Surry has knocked North Moore out of the state tournament before, but the Mustangs were tough customers yesterday, something Hill has come to expect.
Its like having two freight trains on the same track, he said.
East Surry is slated to play Swain County in its first game Friday. The other teams to reach the 1A finals are North Johnston and Jamesville. Both of those schools represent the eastern half of the state.
After playing in the state finals so many times, the Cardinals have developed a history with each team. They beat North Johnston for the title in 2005 and won it again last year by downing Swain County. Jamesville has knocked East Surry out.
Just getting to the state tournament does not give his team an edge, Hill said. Taking home the hardware, on the other hand, does.
I think it is to our advantage that weve been there and won, he said.