WALNUT COVE — South Stokes kept Friday night’s Northwest 1A Conference showdown with East Surry in suspense for a while, but the Lady Cardinals got their bats going late in the game and notched a 7-3 road victory over the Lady Sauras.
East Surry (13-6, 3-3 NW1A) already knew it would be the No. 2 team in the conference for postseason play, but the Lady Cardinals’ seeding is still affected by every game the team plays. A better record means a higher seed and more likelihood of playing at home. On Friday, homestanding South Stokes (1-16, 0-4) took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the second inning and was still ahead by that count when East came to bat in the top of the fifth inning, with just nine outs left in the game.
The inning generated the conclusive rally that put the Lady Cardinals on top for good. Predictably, it was Bethany Clayton and her .550 batting average that started things off, leading the frame off with a base hit. With one down, Autumn Lawson drew a walk, putting the go-ahead run on base. Coach Randy Marion put Morgan Smith in the game as a courtesy runner for Lawson, and both runners advanced on a one-out passed ball. It ultimately didn’t matter when Grace Kiser doubled to left and drove both runners in for a 4-3 East Surry lead. Maggie Holt followed that up with a double to right, scoring Kiser and making the score 5-3. East added an unearned run later in the inning when Kelsey Heflin reached on an error, allowing Allie Bruner, who’d singled earlier in the sequence, to score.
The Lady Cardinals tacked on an insurance run when Holt hit a solo home run with one out in the top of the seventh inning.
Freshman Hali Scott pitched the entire game for East Surry, going the distance on 90 pitches and allowing four hits and two earned runs while striking out three batters.
The game started out splendidly for the state’s seventh-ranked 1A team. Clayton led off the game and hit a rocket into right field on an 0-1 pitch, racing all the way to third base. She raced home with one out on a ground ball by Lawson. The Sauras tried to get Clayton at home on a comebacker to the mound, but she beat the tag and got East on the board. This left Lawson on base, and she moved into scoring position when Kiser reached on an error. Another miscue, on a ball hit by Bruner, allowed Lawson to score and make it 2-0.
The Sauras took the lead in the bottom of the second. They loaded the bases on a single, a walk and and error, and a two-run double cleared the bags and put South Stokes in front. There was only one out, but Scott bounced back and got the next two batters to escape the jam.
East left two runners on base in the third inning and didn’t respond until the fifth.
Clayton had three hits and Holt two for the Lady Cardinals, who outhit South Stokes 8-4.
East Surry will host Surry Central on Monday in a non-conference game.