EAST BEND — Non-conference showdowns early in the year don’t come much better than Saturday’s battle in East Bend.
East Surry ended the 2017 regular season as the state’s top-ranked 1A team, and nearby Forbush ended theirs as the No. 2-ranked 2A squad. The two teams met for a weekend battle in which both teams lived up to their preseason clippings, in which is considered a strong contender for their respective state title in 2018.
The Lady Cardinals’ two 1A All-State returnees made the difference as East Surry pulled out a 2-1 victory. Bethany Clayton swatted a base hit in the top of the fifth inning to drive in two runs and give her team the lead. Fellow senior Autumn Lawson made it stand up on the mound, blanking Forbush in each of the final two innings to lift East Surry to the win.
Lawson allowed just two hits and struck out eight in the East Surry win, with strikes on the first pitch 15 times. She walked only two batters and the only run charged to her was unearned.
The Lady Falcons, who won the Western Piedmont 2A Athletic Conference title last season and finished 19-3 on the season, had taken a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning.
The Lady Cardinals faced another championship contender on Monday and sustained their first loss of the season, when they hosted Northwest 1A Conference rival North Stokes and lost 9-2. The two teams have battled for the league title for the past several years, with East Surry coming out on top last year. East will get its chance to even the score when the teams meet again on March 20.
The Lady Cardinals’ tough early-season slate continues on Wednesday with a home game against 4A West Forsyth.