When the NCAA ruled last year that all winter and spring athletes would retain a year of eligibility due to the many canceled or cut-short seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many seniors had another chance at one final, full season.

Players like N.C. Wesleyan catcher Brad Pennington, a senior last year and also the Bishops’ most valuable player in 2019, was among those who benefited from the ruling.

Backed by three hits from Pennington on Tuesday, the NCWC baseball team earned a 9-2 season-opening win over Methodist University. The Bishops collected 13 hits with Nathan Hibbs, Zach Lyon, Tyson Bass and Pennington turning in multi-hit games.

Lyon hit a home run and finished with two RBIs, while Hibbs and Bass each batted in two runs.

Eight different players had at least one hit, including former Nash Central standout and Telegram batter of the year Difton Padgett. The centerfielder smacked a double, stole two bases and scored a pair of runs.

Bishops starting pitcher CJ DiBenedetto allowed one run and four hits over four innings. Reliever Daniel Thompson struck out five Monarch batters and didn’t allow a hit in 2 ⅔ innings.

The Bishops are on the road at Ferrum on Saturday for a doubleheader, then return home for one game on Sunday with Ferrum.

HIGH SCHOOLS

The Rocky Mount High girls’ basketball team has done it again.

The Gryphons clinched the Big East Conference title on Tuesday by defeating Southern Nash, 53-35, on Tuesday in Bailey. The Gryphons have now won the conference in back-to-back seasons.

The win meant that the Gryphons erased the possibility of any other team sneaking into the top spot in the conference on the final night of the regular season. RMH remained two games ahead of rival Northern Nash (the teams meet on Friday) in the conference standings with just that one game remaining this season.


RMH’s Dee Graham led all scorers with 14 points, 12 of which came on furor 3-pointers. Also for the Gryphons was Caroline Thiel scoring 12 points with nine rebounds and six assists.

Shilyia Williams finished with nine points and pulled down a whopping 22 rebounds for the Gryphons, with Nyla Powell totaling 13 rebounds and four points.

Southern Nash (0-9) closes the season with a road game at Franklinton on Friday.

For RMH, its final game comes against the rival Knights (7-2), whose 49-44 loss on Monday to Franklinton, coupled with the Gryphons’ latest win, made it impossible to earn at least a tie for first place.

Postseason seeding will take place on Sunday, so Friday’s game still has consequences.

Boys’ basketball

The Rocky Mount High boys’ basketball team also left to doubt by clinching the Big East Conference with Tuesday’s 68-57 win over Southern Nash.

The Gryphons (9-0) will close out the regular season at home against Northern Nash (6-3) on Friday.

Jamal Townsend was one of three RMH players to score in double figures against the Firebirds. Townsend had a game-high 19 points, with Deandre Lynch scoring 15 and McKenly Hines-Williams adding 12.

The Firebirds (6-3) were led by 18 points from Chason Royal and 17 points from Jordan Vick.