DOBSON — The last big step up is still eluding the Surry Central softball team.
The Lady Eagles long ago established that they were one of the area’s most improved teams. Their 5-3 extra-inning victory over East Wilkes on Saturday was their 10th of the 2016 season, doubling their win total from all of last year, and the 10 wins have them solidly in the running for a spot in the 2A state playoffs even if they don’t qualify on conference standing.
Tuesday night’s game won’t help their cause, as Surry Central dug a deep early hole against Western Piedmont 2A rival South Stokes and ended up losing the game 10-0 in six innings.
Just as in some other losses this season, errors at inopportune times and a lack of timely hitting hurt the Lady Eagles (10-11, 2-5 WP2A). The Lady Sauras used two errors to put a pair of unearned runs on the board in the first inning, and then added three more in the fourth inning when Central again made ill-timed miscues. In between, the Lady Eagles played two perfect frames in the field and had chances to get back into the contest, but left three runners in scoring position.
The rest of the game was just a fight to hang on, and Central was fortunate to extend the game to a sixth inning before succumbing.
South Stokes gratefully accepted a pair of runs that the Lady Eagles gifted them in the top of the first, when its first three batters of the game reached on two errors sandwiched around a walk to Lydia Jackson. A single by Paige Rideout later in the inning plated a pair of runs, but Surry Central pitcher Ema Coe pitched her way out of the jam with no more damage.
The Lady Eagles immediately had a chance to get the runs back. Katlin Anthony led off the game against Stokes pitcher Charley Fallin and singled back through the box. With one out, Claire Via smashed the first pitch from Fallin deep into center field and suddenly the Lady Eagles had runners on second and third with one out, but they couldn’t cash it in. The next two batters popped up on the infield and struck out.
Neither team scored over the next two frames, although Via gave her team another chance when she doubled to left with two out in the third, only to be left stranded again.
South Stokes took control of the game in the fourth, again with a lot of cooperation from the hosts. The Lady Sauras parlayed two errors and hits by Samantha Williams and Ashleigh Washburn into three additional runs. In the meantime, Fallin began to settle in and allowed just two hits, singles by Haley Newman and Anthony, over the final three innings.
A two-run homer by Kate Manring highlighted a four-run fifth for South Stokes, in which Surry Central played strong defense and actually staved off defeat via the 10-run rule by twice throwing out Lady Saura baserunners for outs. But this was only a reprieve, as South Stokes finally got the 10th run in the sixth, thanks to singles from Manring, Rideout and Williams. The Lady Eagles were unable to score in their half of the inning and the game ended early.Surry Central is in need of victories at this point in the season to keep its postseason hopes alive, and faces a key conference showdown on Friday at home against county rival North Surry.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.