South Johnston’s varsity softball and baseball teams both improved to 2-0 on the season with a pair of rain-soaked wins over visiting Harnett Central on Thursday.
Senior Kyndal Woodard threw a 13-strikeout gem as South Johnston’s softball team capitalized on miscues to take an 8-2 win over Harnett Central.
“They’re a young team, but they’re going to be alright in the end when they get it all together,” said South Johnston softball coach Ashley Ennis. “Kyndal pitched great. She kept them off balance. Had 13 strikeouts. To be honest, I think we were just sitting there, just a flat kind of a game, and it affected our offense for a while. We did not do a good job adjusting to the speed of their pitcher. We’ve got to get better at doing that if we’re going to keep being successful. But a win’s a win. We could have hit the ball a little bit better. We left a lot on base and just didn’t get the hits when we needed it.”
Harnett Central softball coach Chelsey Cabe said six errors, leading to six unearned runs for South, were costly.
“Too many opportunities where errors left them on base and they capitalized at the plate,” Cabe said. “They hit the crap out of the ball. But a lot of those runs up until that grand slam were because of errors and people being left on base.”
Woodard went the distance in the circle to take the win for the homestanding Trojans (2-0), yielding two earned runs on four hits and no walks, with 13 strikeouts.
Senior Emily White was the pitcher of record for the visiting Trojans (0-1). In four innings, she yielded two earned runs on nine hits and one walk, with two strikeouts. Ashley Ellis pitched two innings, giving up no earned runs on four hits and no walks.
“Coach (Olivia) Scarborough (Central’s pitching coach) said that both of them hit their spots like they were supposed to and she was impressed with that tonight,” Cabe said.
A pair of sophomores led South at the plate. Tori James was 3-for-4, including two doubles, and Kennedy Byrd had two hits, a double and a grand slam, four RBIs and two runs scored.
Woodard had two hits and two runs scored. Hollyn Champagne had two hits and one run scored. Katie Mitchell had one hit, one RBI and one run scored. Sara Honeycutt had one hit and one run scored. Meagan Worley and Nikki Lee had one hit apiece. Kylie Lee had one RBI. Caroline Tucker scored once.
“Kennedy got another one (she also had a home run at Triton the night before),” Ennis said. “Tori James hit the ball real hard tonight. And Kyndal and Katie got on base like we needed them to do. As long as we can keep doing that and do a better job adjusting, hit the ball when we need to and play good, solid defense.”
Junior Jessie Dillon had two hits, a double and a home run, two RBIs and a run scored to lead Central.
Mikaela Goss had one hit and one run scored and Kellyn Fulcher had one hit.
After graduating eight seniors last year, Harnett Central returned just three players from last year’s varsity team: lone senior Emily White, junior Jessie Dillon and sophomore Mikaela Goss. Goss and White are the only two varsity players that saw significant playing time returning from last year.
“We’re so young,” Cabe said. “Right now, we only have two girls on the field that have played varsity ball. So, you’ve got seven girls that have played JV and then the shortstop (Ashley Bliven) is a freshman. We’re just really young and it’s going to take some time for us to click together. And then with (assistant) coach Scottie Scarborough coming on, it’s a different coaching staff and different mechanics. Different makeup of the team. But things will start clicking. We’ve got to start being more aggressive with the bats before the fourth inning, but you saw some things start to come together and as the season comes on, that will continue.”
Woodard set the tone early for South, striking out the side in the top of the first inning and scoring the game’s first run by reaching on an error and scoring when Mitchell also reached on an error.
“(Woodard)’s always done a great job for us,” Ennis said. “She’s a senior and we expect her to be a leader and she’s doing what she’s supposed to do.”
South added another unearned run in the third when Byrd doubled and scored on an error on a ground ball from Kylie Lee.
Woodard took a no-hitter into the fourth inning, but that bid ended with a two-out double from Dillon.
In the bottom of the fourth, Honeycutt singled, Tucker reached on an error and Woodard singled to load the bases with one out. Honeycutt scored when Mitchell reached on an error, leaving the bases loaded for Byrd to clear them with a grand slam over the center field fence.
The same player that ended the no-hit bid also ended the shutout bid. After Goss singled to lead off the top of the sixth, Dillon cleared the left-center fence with a two-run home run to put Central on the board.
South added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth when Champagne singled and scored on an error on a Worley single.
Central put two runners on base in the top of the seventh after Fulcher singled with two out and Loraliyis Roche reached on an error. But Woodard’s 13th strikeout on the day ended the game.
South Johnston also had a strong night on the baseball diamond, taking a 13-3 win in six innings over Harnett Central.
“Another night where we had good starting pitching right out of the gate,” said South Johnston baseball coach Aaron Parnell. “We’re getting ahead of guys and just attacking the strike zone. Defensively, that’s just kind of setting the tone for us. Offensively, we’re doing a lot of good things. We’re not striking out a whole lot and that’s down to being competitive in there. The whole team is doing that throughout the whole lineup.”
Junior starter Dewayne Schneider took the win on the mound for the homestanding Trojans (2-0), giving up no runs on two hits and one walk, with three strikeouts.
“Pitching sets the tone,” Parnell said. “Whether we’re home or away, whatever we’re doing, when you’ve got a guy out there attacking hitters, that kind of brings the whole team together. You know, kind of get behind him and roll.”
Senior Christian Pollard had two hits, including a double, and two runs scored and seniors Ethan Weaver and Blake Jones each had two hits and two runs scored to lead South at the plate.
Parker Wood had two hits and one run scored. Chase Carroll, A.J. Byrd, Cody Allen and C.J. McQuitty each had one hit and one run scored. Patrick Allen had one hit. Cole Winborne and Justin Hamilton scored one run apiece.
Junior John Tarpey had two hits, including a double, and one run scored to lead the visiting Trojans (0-1).
Austin Swan and Justin Perkins had one hit apiece. Ryan Hayes and Ryder Carroll scored one run apiece.
South scored two runs in the first inning, four in the second, one apiece in the third and fourth and five in the sixth. Central scored three runs in the top of the sixth.
Harnett Central is at home against Union Pines in baseball and softball to start Tri-County Six 3-A Conference play and South Johnston is at Corinth Holders in softball on Friday. South’s baseball team returns to action at home against Rocky Mount on Tuesday.