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Two regular-season rematches will be among the offerings when the North Carolina High School Athletic Association softball postseason gets underway for seven teams from The Wilson Times readership area Tuesday night.
With little to no time for logistical preparation, the NCHSAA released the brackets Monday in advance of Tuesday’s opening round, unleashing a litany of round trips of 100 miles or more in the process for visitors.
Nevertheless, six games will be on tap, with three each in the 2-A and 3-A classifications. One of the rematches is in 3-A, where No. 18 East seed Charles B. Aycock (13-9), the second place 3-A finisher from the split 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference, travels to No. 15 Fike, which was 11-7 in the regular season.
On April 26 in Pikeville, Fike led 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth before back-to-back home runs from junior Logan Medlin and freshman Emma Smith served as CBA’s impetus for a five-run inning in a 6-2 victory. That rematch, where the winner will face the survivor of No. 31 Jacksonville White Oak and No. 2 Eastern Alamance, is set for 7 p.m.
In other 3-A first-round games, No. 23 Hunt (10-9), which tied for third place in the Big East’s regular season with Franklinton, visits Morehead City to take on No. 7 seed and Coastal Conference champion West Carteret (17-4). The winner of Tuesday’s 6:30 p.m. contest faces off with the winner of No. 10 Hillsborough Cedar Ridge and No. 23 West Johnston.
The Lady Warriors have struggled with inconsistency this season as well as internal discord, according to second-year head coach Miguel Hall. A 20-0 loss to end the regular-season against Fike was followed by a 7-3 win over Franklinton that became necessary to determine an official order of finish in the Big East.
Big East champion Southern Nash (16-4) drew the No. 8 seed and is in position for at least two home games in the playoffs. The Ladybirds host No. 25 Cameron Union Pines (12-9), with first pitch set for 6:30 p.m.
Southern Nash hits .386 as a team and is paced by junior Carrigan Ewers in the pitching circle. With a 2.20 earned run average, Ewers has struck out 128 and walked just 35 batters. Should the Ladybirds advance, they will host the winner of No. 9 Harnett Central and No. 24 Franklinton.
Over in 2-A, the East bracket is populated with the area’s highest seed, No. 3 North Johnston, as well as No. 22 Greene Central and No. 24 Beddingfield.
After a challenging nonconference schedule where the Lady Panthers went 6-5, North Johnston (20-6) won the Eastern Plains Conference in unbeaten fashion for the second straight year and has won 25 straight in the league.
The Lady Panthers face No. 30 Kill Devil Hills First Flight (9-9) at 6 in Kenly, where North Johnston will attempt to take its first step towards returning to the East regional final. The winner of No. 14 Bertie and No. 19 Holly Ridge Dixon awaits the Lady Panthers, should they advance.
Several consequences were attached to Beddingfield’s 10-3 loss to Farmville Central on Thursday. Not only did it leave the Lady Bruins and Jaguars in a tie for second in the EPC, but Beddingfield lost the subsequent coin toss for seeding. Thus, Beddingfield (12-6) is the No. 24 seed and visits No. 9 Yanceyville Bartlett Yancey (17-2) at 6 p.m. It’s the first playoff meeting between the teams since 2015.
The second rematch is an Eastern Carolina Conference collision, where No. 22 Greene Central is at No. 11 South Lenoir. The Lady Rams (11-7) lost both meeting to the Blue Devils in the regular season, one being a one-run, 6-5 outcome on March 27.
A second-round game with either No. 6 Currituck or No. 27 Walkertown awaits the winner of the 6 p.m. meeting in Deep Run.