WILSON — After battling to get to the point where there was a second chance available, North Johnston’s softball team is back where it’s been for the past three weeks – one game away from elimination.
Wilson Beddingfield scored four runs in its final two at-bats Friday night to top North Johnston 4-1 in Game 1 of their three-game 2A eastern regional championship series. Game 2 will be noon Saturday at North Johnston. Game 3, if needed, follows.
“You get to these games and you blink and next thing you know, it’s uh-oh time,” said North Johnston coach George Daniels of the Bruins’ comeback.
The Panthers’ only losses this season have been to Beddingfield.
North Johnston (26-2) led 1-0 after three innings on Taylor Adams’ sacrifice fly in the top of the third, which scored Jamie Johnson.
However, that was all the scoring the Panthers would get despite totaling seven hits in the game’s first 3 1/3 innings. North Johnson had three consecutive two-out hits in the second but had a runner thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
“We didn’t capitalize when we had the chance and I couldn’t get a runner stopped coming around third base,” Daniels said. “We had too many pop ups and their outfield played us to take away the long shots.”
North Johnston batters struck out just five times against Beddingfield pitcher Brooke Jones, but the Panthers’ final 13 batters went without a hit. A pair of walks were the only Panthers runners to reach after Lauren Batten’s single with one out in the fourth.
Beddingfield (25-3) was scoreless until the fifth when Candice Wilkins’ infield hit started a one-out rally. Caitlin Jones followed with a walk before Natalie Boykin dropped down a sacrifice bunt to set up lead-off batter Nickie Womble with two runners in scoring position.
Womble hit a double just short of the wall in left field, scoring both runners for a 2-1 lead. She went 2-for-4 with two doubles.
In the sixth, a North Johnston error helped start another Beddingfield offensive push. A walk and another sacrifice bunt put runners at second and third for Ashley Warren, whose bunt bounced high off the plate in play, allowing her to reach safely and Alyssa Nutt to score.