PILOT MOUNTAIN — Surry Central edged East Surry 1-0 in softball Tuesday with great pitching by both sides.
The Lady Eagles’ Elise Austin threw a five-hit shutout, and Brittany Myers led the offense with a double, single and the only run of the game.
In the sixth inning, East pitcher Kristen Cummings retired the first two batters. Then Myers singled and went to second on a passed ball.
Sophomore Kristin Key singled to center.
“I was sending Myers home as hard as possible,” said Central Coach Glenn Craddock.
It would have taken a perfect catch and throw from the outfielder to nab Myers, but the center fielder bobbled the ball and didn’t have a play.
The Lady Cardinals couldn’t tie the game in either the sixth or seventh innings and fell to 2-2 on the season, 1-2 in the Northwest Conference.
The win raised the Eagles to 5-4 overall, 3-2 in the Northwest.
“Brittany’s stepped up and really become a leader this year,” Craddock said of Myers.
It seemed fitting that Myers score the only run as she nearly scored in the second inning.
With a strong wind blowing in from left, Craddock said he told his players to hit line drives, not fly balls.
“The ball wasn’t going anywhere,” he pointed out.
And yet, Myers crushed a shot to left that would have been out on a calm day. The ball short-hopped the fence for a stand-up double with none out.
One out later, Myers advanced to third on a grounder through the left side by Jordan Wood. Myers had to hold up at second to be sure the infielders wouldn’t catch the ball.
With two outs, freshman Katlin Anthony hit another hard shot to left, but the wind held this one up enough for the leftfielder to make the final out.
East Surry also had its chances to score. The Cards had two runners aboard with none out in the first inning.
The next batter apparently misunderstood the coach’s signal to lay down a sacrifice bunt, noted Coach Derrick Hill.
Another batter attempted to lay down a bunt and fouled off two balls instead.
The batters just aren’t coming through at the plate right now, Hill said. They are swinging at the pitcher’s pitches instead of looking for something they can drive. And, they let some third strikes go past without taking a cut, the coach said.
“We can’t string together two or three hits to get a run,” he said.
While he doesn’t like to put pressure on one player, Hill knows his offense will be better when senior Kelsey Wilson is back in the middle of the lineup.
Wilson hurt her shoulder during cheerleading routines over the winter. Then she fell and suffered a concussion this week and is out.
Wilson was the most outstanding player at the state championship as a sophomore.
The defense played well, and the pitchers did a nice job, Hill said. He shuffled the pitchers to keep Central off-balance. Laken Bowman started and went two innings. Then Cummings pitched the next four, and Jessica Barker threw the seventh.
Unfortunately for the Cards, Austin was even a little better for Central.
“It was one of her better performances tonight,” Craddock said of the all-conference performer. Whenever the Cards threatened, “she beared down and hit her spots.”
She only had five strikeouts, but one came with two runners in scoring position. Three others came in a row after the Cards got a leadoff single from Bowman.
Craddock also pointed out the nice defensive play from center fielder Kendra Johnson. In one inning, Johnson recorded all three outs on fly balls.
Then later in the game, she turned in the catch of the night on a diving grab in the gap.
“It was beautiful,” said Craddock. “She stretched out for it and caught it.”
Johnson also is a defensive standout in volleyball as libero.
“She’s an athlete, she’s a tremendous ball player,” he said.
“I’m proud of the girls, we showed that we can play some ball,” the coach said. “If we keep hitting the ball and playing error-free defense, we’ll be all right.”
The Eagles travel to West Forsyth on Thursday. They originally were set to play at Forbush, but the Lady Falcons needed to make up a rained-out Mountain Valley conference game.
On Friday, the Eagles travel to Bishop, while the Cards host North Surry.