N.C. Wesleyan softball confident heading into USA South Tournament

By Jessie H. Nunery

Sports Editor

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If not for a rally in a recent road contest, N.C. Wesleyan’s softball team might have been in the strange predicament of watching its league tournament from its own backyard.

The Battling Bishops erased a four-run deficit in its final two at-bats last week at William Peace, and it was good enough to help them earn a seventh seed when the USA South Spring Sports Championships open Friday at the Rocky Mount Sports Complex.

N.C. Wesleyan might have scratched and clawed its way into the tournament, but make no mistake: Coach John Brackett isn’t simply satisfied with earning one of eight spots in the double-elimination field.

“We feel we have the talent to do it,” said Brackett, whose team will play No. 2 Huntingdon at 11 a.m. Friday and an opponent to be determined at 3 p.m. “I think it is wide open. It’s a three-day tournament, and a lot of things can happen.”

Top-ranked Piedmont (35-4) has held a spot among the 10 best teams in the country all season, leaving it as the favorite to win the title.

Even with those credentials looming over the remainder of the field, there could be a number of close ballgames that ultimately decide the champion.

N.C. Wesleyan (17-17, 12-10 USA South) might be as dangerous as any team in the field. Led by all-conference second baseman Carly Creef and catcher Paige Pritchett, the Bishops are playing perhaps better than their seeding suggests.

Brackett said that Creef’s speed makes her one of the tougher outs in the conference, while Pritchett is an ideal cleanup hitter.

“Both of them are healthy and had been injured,” Brackett said. “That’s one of the reasons why I think we can do this.”

The Bishops dropped a doubleheader Saturday in the regular-season finale to Huntingdon by scores of 1-0 and 6-2. The 1-0 contest was a pitcher’s duel, and in the latter, N.C. Wesleyan allowed three unearned runs.

Leanna Fann and Jasmine Edgren have paced the Bishops’ pitching staff all season, and the interchangeable duo is capable of shutting down the opponent and boosting the team’s chances in the opener.

“We feel we will be more prepared this time around,” Brackett said. “We’re thankful to be in and we’ll be excited to be on the field Friday. The conference has a bunch of really good teams with leadership, pitching and defense. We think we can do well this weekend.”


Jessie H. Nunery can be reached at 407-9959 or jhnunery@rmtelegram.com