Central grabs No. 3 spot in WPAC, advantage in playoff qualification

By John Cate - jcate@mtairynews.com

EAST BEND — Surry Central and North Surry couldn’t decide bragging rights for 2018 in just two games, so they met one more time on neutral ground Friday night.

In a game that pitted the two schools against one another for the No. 3 spot in the Western Piedmont Athletic Conference, the Lady Eagles settled the rivalry and the likely state playoff berth with an emphatic 4-0 victory at Forbush High School.

Central (11-11), which beat North 5-4 on March 27 but lost 4-2 on April 20, got a four-hit shutout from freshman pitcher Megan Atkins in the team’s most important game of the season to date. Atkins allowed just one extra-base hit, a double, and didn’t walk anyone.

The game was a pitcher’s duel between Atkins and North Surry senior Drew Beamer until the third inning. Emma Bullin led off the Central third with a single to left on a 2-2 pitch. She remained stuck at first base as Beamer notched a strikeout and a flyout, but then Atkins helped herself by smashing a 2-0 pitch into left field for a double, driving in Bullin for a 1-0 Lady Eagle lead.

Central made it a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning. Savanah Atkins led off with a walk, and two errors later in the inning made things difficult for North Surry, and Haley Newman eventually scored for the Lady Eagles after reaching on an error later in the inning.

In the meantime, the Lady Hounds (13-12) were having difficulty getting more than one runner on base at a time and then moving them around the bases when they did get someone on base. Mia Simmons singled in the third and Beamer reached on an error in the fourth, but neither got farther than second base.

Beamer held Central scoreless in the top of the fifth, but Megan Atkins answered by getting North to ground out three times in a row. Then the Lady Eagles put it away in the sixth.

Savanah Atkins led off the Central sixth by driving a ball over the left-field fence. With one out, Abby Nina singled, and Kaylee Snow followed with a double that moved Nina all the way to third base. A wild pitch with Bullin at the plate allowed Nina to cross home plate and make the score 4-0. The Lady Hounds kept competing, foiling a squeeze bunt attempt by Chelsey Atkins as third baseman Abby Draughn made the play and fired home to catcher Makara Woodbury, but they needed hits and those weren’t forthcoming.

North put two runners on base with two out in its half of the sixth, but failed to score. Beamer held the Lady Eagles in the seventh for a complete game, and Ellie McHone led off the Lady Hounds’ half of the inning with a double, but Megan Atkins mowed down the next three batters to end the game.

Both teams will now wait until Monday to see if their season will continue. Only two teams automatically qualify out of the Western Piedmont Athletic Conference, and those spots went to Forbush and West Stokes. Central, as the No. 3 team out of the WPAC, will get priority for an at-large berth.

By John Cate


Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.

Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.