PILOT MOUNTAIN — East Surry completed the season sweep of South Stokes with a 3-0 victory over the Sauras on Tuesday. The win puts the Cardinals in the championship match of the Northwest 1A Conference Tournament against a team looking to sweep East Surry.
East has dominated all three meetings against South Stokes this season. Victories by 13, 10, and four runs gave the Cards three conference wins. Conversely, each of the Cardinals’ conference losses have come at the hand of the state’s top-ranked 1A team and next obstacle, North Stokes.
Despite the impending showdown against the Vikings, Randy Marion’s squad was focused on the task at hand; defeating South Stokes on Senior Night. The Cardinals honored three seniors at Tuesday’s game: Bethany Clayton, Sarah Marion, and Autumn Lawson.
Tuesday’s game was especially special for Lawson. Lawson finished with a no-hitter and was one walk away from a perfect game. She threw nine strikeouts in seven innings on the mound.
It took a while for the Cardinals to get on the board despite keeping South hit-less in the early going. Anna-Kate Badgett was the only Cardinal to record a hit in the first two innings. Badgett advanced to second on a stolen base and then to third on sacrifice grounder from Lawson.
It wasn’t until the third inning that East would score the game’s first run. Kelsey Heflin led-off with a single, and was joined on base by Morgan Smith on a Saura error.
Clayton scored Heflin on a sacrifice RBI to put the Cards up 1-0. Lawson extended the lead to 2-0 with an RBI single that scored Smith.
Unlike the Sauras who were getting struck out left and right, East Surry was connecting with pitches but just couldn’t get on base. The Lady Cards were only struck out three times in Tuesday’s game. The majority of outs on East came on ground-outs in the infield or fly balls to the outfield.
The Cards were relatively quiet on offense until the bottom of the fifth. Clayton placed the ball perfectly in right-center field. But with two outs already on the scoreboard, Clayton wasn’t able to make it back home.
All of Lawson’s strikeouts came in the first four innings. Whether it was due to fatigue on East’s part or the Sauras figuring out the pitching style, South Stokes connected with the ball just about every at-bat in the final three innings. Fortunately for the Lady Cards, most of these hits were easy grounders.
The only one that wasn’t was in the top of the sixth inning when Lawson walked a batter. This one base on balls was the one blemish on Lawson’s Senior Night no-hitter.
East’s final at-bat came in the bottom of the sixth inning. Lawson led off with a single, and advanced on a single from Grace Kiser. Both Lawson and Kiser got in scoring position after a sacrifice ground ball from Maggie Holt.
Sarah Marion hit an RBI single that scored Leah Hayes, who ran for Lawson. East then kept the Sauras scoreless in the top of the seventh to pull away with a win.
With South Stokes in the rear-view mirror for good, the Lady Cards can put all their attention on the Vikings up north. East fell to North Stokes 9-2 and 7-2 at home and 4-3 in extra innings on the road.
East Surry is hoping the fourth time is the charm when they face North Stokes in the NW1A Championship Game on Thursday at 6 p.m. The game will be held at South Stokes High School.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith