The last day of play in the Northwest 1A Conference for baseball and softball was a tour de force for the regular-season softball champion and baseball co-champion East Surry Cardinals.
The softball team, ranked No. 2 in the state’s 1A ranks by MaxPreps.com, left no doubt as to who the best team in the league was this season. North Stokes had reigned as league champs for five years running, but the Lady Cardinals (22-3) beat them twice in the regular season and then faced them for a third time in the championship game of the conference tournament on Friday. The result, on the Lady Vikings’ home field no less, was a 10-0 mercy-rule shellacking.
Junior pitcher Autumn Lawson went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI, and also pitched a three-hit shutout for East Surry, which takes a 22-3 record into the playoffs next week.
The baseball championship had even more at stake on Friday, as the third-ranked Cardinals and fifth-ranked Walkertown Wolfpack squared off in the final at Mount Airy High School. The teams split their games in the regular season to share the conference title, but bragging rights, along with the tournament title and the No. 1 playoff seed from the conference, were all on the line. East Surry (19-4) trailed 3-1 and 4-3 early in the game, but never trailed after tying the game at 4 in the top of the fourth inning.
The Cardinals sent 11 men to the plate against two Walkertown (15-5) pitchers in the top of the fifth. East Surry scored seven runs and took a commanding 11-4 lead. The Wolfpack managed to load the bases in the bottom of the ninth and got two runs off reliever Luke Horton, but Horton pitched out of the game and the Cardinals claimed the tournament championship, 11-6.
East Surry’s Kain Kiser went 3-for-3 in the contest with a double and five RBI. His infield hit in the first inning gave the Cardinals an early 1-0 lead. He doubled in the third to drive in two runs and tie the game at 3, and then singled for two more RBI and a 7-4 lead in the fifth. A.J. Wilson pitched the first six innings and didn’t have his best stuff, but battled all night against the hard-hitting Wolfpack to earn the win.
Both East Surry teams should earn high seeds for the upcoming 1A state playoffs and be playing at home in the first round. The brackets should be released and finalized on either Sunday or Monday.
Please see the Sunday issue of the Mount Airy News for a full report on both of these contests.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.