Defense led the way as Triton’s varsity softball team won a 2-0 shutout over visiting North Johnston on Tuesday.
“I told the girls, ‘Nobody expected us to beat them tonight,’” said Triton coach Mark Whitman. “And I had some doubts myself, because they’re a great program. Chris (Batten) does a great job with his girls. He coaches them well and they’re well-disciplined.
“But we played great defense. T.K. (Takyra McLean) did her job at the lead off. We got the hits when we needed it. We got bunts down when we needed it. We played fundamental softball. Overall, I couldn’t be more proud of our team as a coach. Good job.”
Coming off of a perfect game against Smithfield-Selma on Thursday, freshman Aubree Bass pitched the complete game shutout for the Hawks (2-2), giving up no runs on four hits and two walks, with 11 strikeouts.
“Aubree pitched lights out,” Whitman said. “I asked her with two innings left if she still wanted the ball and she said, ‘I want the ball.’ That’s all I can ask.”
Whitman was also pleased with the other half of the battery, sophomore catcher Ashley Pope.
“Ashley did a great job behind the plate tonight,” Whitman said. “She’s getting better and that’s all I can ask, is for them to get better. Just an awesome job behind the plate.”
Senior Arial Pearce went the distance in the circle for the Panthers (3-2), yielding two earned runs on five hits and no walks, with five strikeouts.
Senior Gracyn Slaughter had two hits and one RBI, freshman Takyra McLean had two hits and one run scored and senior Kaila Cooney had a triple, an RBI and one run scored for Triton.
Whitman was pleased with the defensive play of McLean in right field and sophomore Gracie Byrd in left field.
“Great job by T.K. leading off. That’s why she’s there,” Whitman said. “She played good in the field, too. Threw that girl out at first. Gracie Byrd played outstanding out in left field today. It was just a total team effort. Girls just did awesome.”
Sophomore Logan Hodge had a triple, senior Taylor Jones had a double and senior Gabby Hales and sophomore Rilee Hyatt had one hit apiece for North Johnston.
After five-and-a-half scoreless innings, Triton ended the shutout in the bottom of the sixth inning. McLean led off with a base hit, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Kimah Warren and scored on Cooney’s triple. Cooney scored on a base hit from Slaughter.
Hodge had a one-out triple in the top of the seventh for the Panthers. But the following batter lined out to second baseman Reagan Bradham, who threw to Cooney on third before Hodge could get back to the base for a double play to end the game.
Triton postponed its Tri-County Six 3-A Conference opener at home against Southern Lee (1-1, 1-0 TCSC), which was scheduled for Wednesday at 6 p.m.
“That’s a big, big signature win for us going into conference play tomorrow, if we play (the forecast calls for thunderstorms),” Whitman said. “That is a signature win. I couldn’t be more proud of the girls. We’re still not quite there. We’ve still got a lot of work. But it’s a huge step in the right direction.”