Written by Laieke Abebe
Wayne Christian came into the NCISAA 2A softball state championship series with a 19-0 record, but their first blemish came on Friday afternoon.
The top-seeded Eagles fell, 2-0 to No. 2 Rocky Mount Academy in the first game of a best-of-three series. In a high-level pitching matchup, it was the visitors who prevailed and are one win away from a state title.
“They have a great pitcher and she threw extremely well,” head coach Tommy Fox said. “Offensively, we have to make adjustments at the plate, shorten our swing and put pressure on their defense. We give [Rocky Mount Academy] a lot of credit, but now we have to respond.”
Wayne Christian junior pitcher Brianna Verme pitched well in another complete-game performance. However, she was out-dueled in game one by Rocky Mount Academy’s Emily Winstead. The junior pitcher had 16 strikeouts in a complete-game shutout.
The Eagles could only muster four hits and the only scoring came on a pair of wild pitches in the first and fourth innings. While they were able to get runners in scoring position, Rocky Mount Academy made timely defensive plays to keep the home team off the board.
Despite losing Friday, Wayne Christian is not out of it yet. However, Eagles must win two games Saturday to win a state championship. They will be the “road team” on the scoreboard for game two and the home team for game three if necessary.
“Tomorrow, we have to come out ready to play from the opening pitch,” Fox added. “We know what we have to do and it’s up to us to execute at the plate.”
In game two, the Eagles also dropped another close game with Rocky Mount Academy once again defeating the Eagles 2-0. Emily Winstead limited the Eagles to just two hits and struck 13 batters.
However, with no seniors on the roster, the Eagles have a good chance of returning to the state championship series next season.