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As playoffs roll on, first round claims plenty of teams

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Rocky Mount High's Evan Hart pitches to Franklinton on Tuesday at Rocky Mount High.

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By PATRICK MASON
Sports Writer

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Tuesday marked the start of the spring sports postseason for many area teams across girls’ soccer, softball and baseball. Boys’ tennis played the second round of the dual team playoffs, and is gearing up for the singles and doubles championships this weekend.

Elsewhere, track and field regionals will be held either May 10 or 11, while boys’ golf will hold its state championship from May 13-14.

After Tuesday, a number of teams saw their season end, though several picked up wins and advanced. We’ll pick up the pieces from a wild Tuesday, starting with the remaining teams.

Who’s still in it

Baseball

Nash Central: The No. 6 Bulldogs had no trouble in earning a first-round win, and will host No. 11 Randleman at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in the second round of the 2-A postseason.

Nash Central (19-7) has won five games in a row, and have scored at least six runs in each of the wins during this stretch.

Rocky Mount High: The No. 19 Gryphons earned an upset — seed-wise — in the first round by beating No. 14 West Carteret, 1-0, on the road in 3-A play.

RMH rode a gem from starter Evan Hart, who went six scoreless innings in the win. His outing allowed the Gryphons to save their pitching arms for Friday’s second-round test against No. 3 Wilson Fike.

NOTE: Both Rocky Mount Academy and Faith Christian will host third-round NCISAA games on Saturday. Their respective opponents were still to be determined by presstime.

Softball

Southern Nash: The No. 8 Firebirds needed a late-inning rally to avoid an upset by No. 25 Union Pines during their first-round game on Tuesday in the 3-A playoffs.

Southern Nash, which ran through the Big East Conference with a 10-0 record, has a deep lineup and several pitchers who can get outs. If SN can avoid another slow start, it should be tough to knock out.

NOTE: Rocky Mount Academy earned the top seed in the NCISAA 2-A playoffs and will host Salem Baptist Christian on Tuesday. Faith Christian School nabbed the No. 4 seed and will host Wayne Christian on Tuesday.

Girls’ soccer

Rocky Mount Academy: The Eagles (17-2) are the lone area soccer team remaining, and will host Friendship Christian School at 6 p.m. on Thursday in the second round of the NCISAA 2-A playoffs.

RMA had an adventurous win on Tuesday, needing penalty kicks to decide what regulation and four overtime sessions could not. The Eagles won 4-2 in PKs.

The winner of Thursday’s game will travel to No. 2 Fayetteville Academy, which has a bye through the first two rounds.

Boys’ tennis

Nash Central: The Bulldogs’ top singles player in Cameron Johnson will begin his state tournament on Friday against Lexington’s Andy Casados.

Rocky Mount High: The Gryphons’ doubles team of Sam Phillips and Landon Norwood will open their state tournament on Friday against Cox Mill’s doubles team of Grant Perry and Karthik Nemani.

Whose season ended

Girls’ soccer

Rocky Mount High: The No. 26 Gryphons lost 9-0 to No. 7 Jacksonville in the 3-A playoffs, ending an up-and-down season to finish 9-8.

Six seniors will graduate from the team, including Katherine Moss who had a team-high 10 assists and was second on the team in goals with 17.

Junior Carson Browder led RMH with 18 goals and will be back. The Gryphons also return the entirety of their goalkeeping group as all four who saw time in net will return, including sophomore Aisha Qatabi who led the team in minutes.

Nash Central soccer: The 18th-seeded Bulldogs also lost 9-0, this one to No. 15 East Duplin in the 2-A playoffs.

Nash Central will lose seven players to graduation, including much of the offensive firepower. Hailey Dinota, Sarah Radjail (both seniors) combined for 10 of the team’s 24 goals this season.

Junior midfielder Mallory Roughton, who had team highs in goals (9) and assists (7) returns to guide a young group next season.

Much like RMH, the Bulldogs do bring back several young goalkeepers, including freshman Maddie Worsley who made 115 saves across a team-high 825 minutes.

Boys’ tennis

Rocky Mount High: The Gryphons lost, 6-0, on Tuesday to Chapel Hill in the 3-A dual-team playoffs.

RMH loses three seniors from its starting lineup, including the top two singles players in Sam Phillips and Landon Norwood (both are playing at state in doubles), and No. 4 Ryan Schrimper.

The Gryphons should still be competitive next season, as current freshman Brody Brice will challenge for the top singles spot. Also, starting sophomores Thomas Wellenhofer and Andrew Rollans return.

Tarboro: The Vikings had a bye through the first round of the 1-A dual-team playoffs, but lost 6-0 on Tuesday to Edenton Holmes.

Baseball

SouthWest Edgecombe: The 32nd-seeded Cougars fell 7-1 to Midway, 2-A’s top-seeded squad.

SWE will return junior pitcher Trent Lewis who had the most appearances with 11, and starts with eight.

Tarboro: The Vikings dropped a tight, first-round game to host Perquimans, 5-4, in 1-A.

Tarboro will lose a lot of its offense, led by seniors Clark Dupree — team-highs in hits (30) and batting average (.395 batting average) — Caleb Whitley (team-high 20 RBIs), Austin Hurtado and Cameron Warren.

Freshman Tanner Cairns pitched the most innings for Tarboro this season with 39 ⅔, and he will headline a group with plenty of young returning arms. Fellow freshman Layton Dupree was second on the team with 23 innings, and junior Drew Baker pitched 16.

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