SANFORD – An outstanding combination of pitching and hitting helps win softball games. For the No. 4 seed Lee County Yellow Jackets, that combination propelled them to a 11-0 victory over the No. 13 seed Hunt Warriors.
Things got off to a quick start for Lee County in the first inning. A lead-off double from Caroline Wilson had the Yellow Jackets in business, and a single from Whitney Sanford two batters later put the first run of the night across.
Lee County’s offense blew the game open in the next frame as it recorded seven hits and plated eight runs in the second inning, giving itself a comfortable 9-0 lead.
“That’s the key, really. We stress getting our outs on defense as quickly as we can, and then extending our outs at the plate,” said Lee County head coach Miles McCaskill. “Momentum in this game comes from the plate. The more hits you get, that’s where momentum comes from.”
Sanford took the mound for Lee County on Friday night. Getting ahead in the count proved to work in her favor, as the junior right-hander struck out 12 Warriors and only allowed two hits in five innings of work.
“I was just going in for strikes and trying to get ahead,” she said. “I just tried to let them hit and have my defense work behind me.”
Sanford helped the Yellow Jackets along even further with her work at the plate. She was 3-for-3, recording four RBI and scoring a run herself.
“Whitney’s done a great job as far as locating her pitches and getting ahead in the count,” said McCaskill. “Our defense, throughout the season, has done a great job of backing her up. And at the plate, she takes a great approach, looks for certain spots, and does a great job of executing.”
Hunt came into the game running on fumes with its pitching situation. Brittany Glover made a second consecutive start for the Warriors but was not able to solve Lee County’s lineup.
Glover would not be able to get out of the eight-run second inning. She was replaced with Hannah Williamson, who was able to stop the bleeding slightly, only giving up three runs the rest of the way.
“Brittany Glover got us through the first round, a little off-speed,” said Hunt head coach Craig Mercer. “I was hoping it’d work … It did for the first inning, but they caught up to it in the second.”
Lee County advanced to the third round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A state playoffs with the win, improving its season record to 22-3. It will host next week’s game against either West Carteret or Cleveland.