Nash Central eliminates Northern Nash from softball playoffs contention

By Jessie H. Nunery

Sports Editor

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Postseason scenarios such as the one laid out before Nash Central and Northern Nash’s softball teams don’t need much 
explanation.

The two squads came into Wednesday evening’s Big East Conference Tournament quarterfinals needing a victory to keep any of their state playoffs chances alive.

The rivals finished in a tie for fourth place during the regular-season, and only the luck of a draw gave Northern Nash the right to play at home.

After Wednesday’s game, Nash Central showed the gap between the rivals schools is greater than what the standings showed.

The Bulldogs hit, fielded and pitched like a team that is playoffs worthy in an easy 9-3 victory against the Knights.

“We all buckled down and decided we don’t want to finish the season,” said Bulldogs catcher Harley Winders, whose team came into the contest with two consecutive losses. “(Wednesday), we finally hit, and our offense was great.”

Nash Central (9-9), which will visit No. 1 Wilson Hunt at 7 tonight in the semifinals, finished with seven hits.

Leadoff batter Sarah Keel paced the Bulldogs with two hits, and she reached base all five times she came to the plate.

“We were due,” Keel said. “I think we gained some confidence from this game, and we need to keep it.”

Keel and Nash Central took advantage of Northern Nash’s many mistakes.

Knights starter Shelby Godwin was ineffective. She walked eight batters, including four in the third inning, which helped lead to a pair of runs.

In the sixth, Nash Central added four runs on a combination of two walks, two hits, three wild pitches and two of Northern Nash’s six
 errors on the night.

“We came on the field, and we weren’t ready to play,” said Northern Nash coach Greg Tharrington, who added that his program will miss the playoffs for the first time in a decade. “I’m supposed to have them ready, and they were not ready.”

Nash Central starter Kelsee Whitley retired the first nine 
batters she faced.

When faced with a bases loaded, one-out jam in the fourth, she benefited from a Knights baserunning error that ended the threat.

By the time Northern Nash (8-9) hit the ball well enough in the sixth to score three runs, the game was all but complete.

Nash Central knows there still is plenty of winning to do if it wants to continue its season.

“We told them if you don’t win (Wednesday), you won’t be in the playoffs,” Nash Central coach Gary Smith said. “We’ll see what happens.”

 

No. 5 Nash Central 9
No. 4 Northern Nash 3
NC 012 104 1 – 9 7 2
NN 000 003 0 – 3 3 6
WP: Kelsee Whitley (7IP, 3R, 3ER, 3H, 2BB, 2K); LP: Shelby Godwin (7IP, 9R, 3ER, 7H, 8BB, 7K).
2B: Kelsee Whitley (NC); Jessica Ricks (NN).
 
Jessie H. Nunery can be reached at 407-9959 or 
jhnunery@rmtelegram.com