Central, North softball meet tonight with likely playoff berth at stake

EAST BEND — North Surry’s attempt to defend its 2017 Western Piedmont Athletic Conference tournament title and Surry Central’s attempt to match the feat this year both went by the wayside on Wednesday night, so the two schools will play one more time tonight, with a state playoff berth likely on the line for both teams.

In the semifinals of this year’s WPAC tournament held at Forbush High School, the host school knocked off the Lady Eagles 3-1, while North Surry dropped a 5-2 decision ot West Stokes. The two schools, which finished first and second in the conference, advanced to the championship game.

As for Central (10-11, 8-4) and North (13-11, 8-4), they finished tied for third place in the league, with neither team breaking the tie in the tournament by winning a head-to-head meeting or winning the championship. The No. 3 position in the WPAC doesn’t have an automatic bid to the postseason, but there are expected to be a number of at-large slots available in the 2A West bracket, which will be doled out to the third-place teams of the various conferences.

The teams will meet at 5 p.m. this evening at Forbush High School to decide the issue.

On Wednesday, North Surry took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Evann Shelnutt led the off the game by being hit with a pitch and then came around to score on a double by Madison Bowman. However, West Stokes (XX-x) took advantage of two errors by the Lady Hounds in the bottom half of the inning and scored three times. North Surry was never able to get the lead back.

Shelnutt’s two-out double in the second inning scored Mia Simmons and pulled her team within 3-2, but the Lady Hounds never score again. They put a runner in scoring position in the third inning and sent the potential tying run to the plate in the seventh, but with two on and one out, North’s last two batters made outs.

In the meantime, West Stokes took advantage of another error to add a pair of unearned runs in the fifth. North Surry outhit West Stokes 5-4, but also had four errors to the Lady Cats’ two.

Ellie McHone took the loss for North despite allowing just four hits and one earned run.

In the other semifinal, Forbush took a 2-0 lead on Surry Central in the second inning and held that lead until both teams pushed across a run in the late innings of play.