Triton took a varsity diamond sweep over visiting Tri-County Six 3-A Conference opponent Union Pines, winning in both baseball and softball on Wednesday night.
Union Pines tried to rally late, but Triton held on for a 4-2 win in the softball game to stay on top of the conference standings.
“It wasn’t a pretty win tonight, but a win’s a win,” said Triton softball coach Mark Whitman. “We got big hits when we needed to get them. We got two big two-out hits, Brittany (Ireland) with a home run and then Mackenzie (Reid) with a big hit. Wasn’t one of our better hitting nights, but for the most part I thought we did a good job. We played great defense. Pitching was great. Defense was great. We scored when we needed to score. They’re a good team. This was a big win for us and is a stepping stone for what we want to do.”
Junior starter Caroline Marshall was the winning pitcher for the Hawks (11-3, 6-1 TCSC), giving up two earned runs on seven hits, no walks and three hit batters, with four strikeouts across five and two-thirds innings. Sophomore Gracyn Slaughter pitched a perfect one and one-third innings, including one strikeout.
“I thought Caroline pitched a great game tonight,” Whitman said. “(Assistant coach) Louie (Slaughter) called a great game for Caroline tonight. She had all of her stuff working. She got in a little, not so much, trouble there (in the sixth inning). I probably could have left her in, but I asked Gracyn if she was ready and she said, ‘Yes.’ I knew I could bring her in to settle things down and give us a little different approach.”
Junior Kaley Evans was the pitcher of record for the Vikings (8-5, 4-3), yielding four earned runs on six hits and two walks, with four strikeouts. Sophomore Samantha Allred pitched two innings, giving up no runs on no hits and two walks, with three strikeouts.
Junior Brittany Ireland had two hits, including a home run, two RBIs and a run scored to lead Triton offensively.
Mackenzie Reid had a double and two RBIs. Slaughter had a double and a run scored. Tatiana Muniz had one hit and one run scored. Ella Layn had one hit. Tristan Ennis scored once.
A pair of sophomores led Union Pines at the plate. Allred had two hits, including a home run, one RBI and one run scored and Kaitlyn Richardson had two hits and one RBI.
Muniz drew a walk to lead off the bottom of the first inning and with two out, Ireland put the Hawks on the board with a line drive shot over the center field fence, her fifth home run on the season, to score Muniz and herself.
Ireland had a base hit in the bottom of the third and Slaughter followed with a double to put two in scoring position for the Hawks. A two-out double from Reid scored Ennis, running for Ireland, and Slaughter for a pair of runs that proved to make the difference in the final score.
Allred connected on a solo home run over center in the top of the sixth to put the Vikings on the board. Later in the inning, Richardson drove in Evans with a two-out base hit to cut the lead to two. But Slaughter, who started the game in left field, was moved to the pitching circle and immediately got Triton out of the inning with a strikeout. She also retired the Vikings in order in the seventh to end the game.
Triton currently sits in first place in the conference, one half-game ahead of rival Harnett Central (5-5, 5-1). But the Trojans could pull into a first-place tie with a win at Western Harnett on Thursday.
Triton put its bats to work to take a 9-5 win over Union Pines in the baseball game.
“We’re coming together at the right time and playing well,” said Triton baseball coach Joey Miriello. “We’ve started to get a little more consistent, which I talked about earlier in the year was going to be one of the ultimate keys for our success. We’re starting to be a little more consistent with the way we’re swinging the bats and especially defensively.”
Triton currently sits in second place in the conference standings, one half-game back of Southern Lee (12-2, 5-1). The Hawks are the lone conference team with a win over the Cavaliers. Miriello is pleased with the Hawks being well ahead of where they were expected to be this season.
“At this point in time in the season, I didn’t think I would be discussion whether or not we would be making the playoffs, or at the top of the conference, fighting for a possible conference championship,” Miriello. “I knew we were going to be better (Triton won only two games last season). These kids are bigger and stronger and a little bit more experienced. But I didn’t realize we were going to be this much better. But there’s still a lot of baseball left to play and it’s a funny game. Anybody in our conference can beat you. You can’t afford to let up at any time.”
Starter Ethan Hedgepeth was the winning pitcher for the Hawks (10-4, 6-2). In five and two-thirds innings, the junior yielded two earned runs on six hits and four walks, with seven strikeouts. Sophomore Dalen Thompson pitched one and one-third innings, giving up no runs on no hits, no walks and one hit batter, with one strikeout.
“Ethan didn’t have his best stuff he’s had all year,” Miriello said. “But good pitchers find a way to win and battle and that’s what he did in some situations. With three games this week, we didn’t have too much of a choice. He was going to have to stay in there and battle, regardless. Luckily, he clamped down and was able to get us to Dalen. I don’t know how much durability Dalen has, because he’s only pitched one or two innings here and there. But he (Hedgepeth) was able to get us to Dalen, where I felt like he could get us through the rest of the game.”
Thompson had two hits, including a triple, and two runs scored and senior Colton Neighbors had two hits, including a double, and two runs scored to lead Triton at the plate.
Grayson Bradham had a home run. Christian Tyndall had a double and a run scored. Parker Crews and Bert Strickland each had one hit and one run scored. Hedgepeth and Greg Godwin had one hit apiece. Austin Riewestahl scored once.
Sophomore Ethan McKay had two hits and a run scored to lead the Vikings (8-9, 2-5).
Triton led the entire game. The Hawks scored three runs apiece in the first and third innings, two in the second and one in the fifth. Union Pines scored one run apiece in the third, fourth and sixth innings and two in the fifth.
Triton’s baseball team is at home against conference foe Lee County for Senior Night on Thursday.
“We’re going to put Greg (Godwin) on the mound, he’s a senior,” Miriello said. “Hopefully he’ll throw strikes and we’ll make the plays behind him and keep this winning streak alive.”
Triton travels to Union Pines in baseball, softball and girls soccer on Friday.
Union Pines took a 9-0 girls soccer win on the Hawks’ pitch on Wednesday evening.