The Tri-Nine 4A Conference doesnt appear ready to give up its dominance of the state baseball ranks. Four league schools advanced to face each other in the third round of the state playoffs with Tuesday night wins.
Pitching ruled the night for all four teams as they combined to allow just five runs.
It just shows how well prepared teams are, said Middle Creek coach Jeremy Thompson. It shows you how important it is to be consistent at throwing, catching and fielding the ball this time of year.
Holly Springs shut out Millbrook 2-0 to move on to visit Green Hope on Friday, a 10-3 winner over Durham Riverside in the second round.
Old rivals Middle Creek and Fuquay-Varina both gave up a single run in their wins. Middle Creek topped Sanderson 2-1, while Fuquay-Varina rolled by Leesville Road 9-1, setting up a rematch of the third round of last years 4A playoffs.
The wins assure the Tri-Nine Conference of a team in the 4A eastern regional championship series for the fourth straight year. The last two state championships Holly Springs in 2011 and Middle Creek in 2012 have been won by Tri-Nine members.
Fuquay-Varina (22-3) will host Middle Creek (14-12) on Friday, while Holly Springs hosts Green Hope in a matchup of 21-5 teams.
You can never take winning of any kind for granted because its so special and so tough to do, Thompson said. But we set the bar high in this conference so I wouldnt say its surprising with the talent in this area and how hard the players and coaches work.
Garner wins 22nd straight: Garner continued its march in baseball with a 5-1 win over New Bern. It was the 22nd consecutive victory on the season for the Trojans, who will host Fayetteville Terry Sanford in the third round on Friday.
Skylar Strickland worked six innings of scoreless ball on the mound for Garner (23-2).
Fellow Greater Neuse River 4A members West Johnston (3-1 at Richmond County) and Clayton (12-0 at Wilmington Hoggard) saw their seasons end.
Trio of Tri-Nine softball squads alive as well: In the 4A softball playoffs, Fuquay-Varina and Middle Creek will meet on Friday as well after their Tuesday wins.
Middle Creek rolled by Wakefield 11-1, while Fuquay-Varina coasted by Southern Pines 9-0. Middle Creek will host Fridays game.
Apex, 20-1 and the Tri-Nine champ, will host Cap Eight champion Wake Forest-Rolesville on Friday. Apex beat Lumberton 6-0 behind a three-hit shutout from Lindsay Hodge.
Alexis Overdiep doubled, tripled and drove in two runs for the Cougars in the victory.
Wake Forest-Rolesville downed Green Hope for its 16th win of the season Tuesday.
Greater Neuse softball teams move on: Greater Neuse River 4A Conference teams are dominating the upper half of the eastern 4A bracket with three teams still holding state championship hopes.
East Wake (16-5) stopped Greater Neuse River champion Garner in a second round game Tuesday, jumping out to a 6-0 lead, then holding on through several Trojan comeback attempts in the late innings.
Haley Glover led the Warriors offense in the win, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Breanna Archibald and Ashlee Miller had two-hit nights for East Wake, which had split its regular-season series with Garner.
Pitcher Lauren Miller struck out just three but scattered three Garner hits, working with her twin sister and catcher, Ashlee Miller.
Lauren showed a lot of character, East Wake coach Melissa Bell said. She threw her pitches. Her rise ball was there, her drop ball was there we called a pitch and she threw it. And thats what you have to do to beat Garner. Our pitching was on and our defense was on. They hit the ball hard, but we made the plays.
She and (catcher and fellow senior twin sister Ashlee) work well together. But theyll call each other out, too. They have a good working relationship. If Ashlee doesnt agree with the pitch we call, shell shake it off and call something she knows her pitcher can throw.
Alisha Josie had a three-run home run for the Trojans in the fourth and drove in the final Garner run with an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh.
West Johnston won its second consecutive road game, topping Richmond County 2-1 on Tuesday. Danielle Myers scored both Wildcat runs on a two-out single in the fifth.
The Wildcats (14-4) visit league and Johnston County rival Clayton (15-4) in a third round game Friday. The two teams split their regular-season series.
Clayton roared by Wilmington Ashley 11-3 Tuesday.
North Johnston and South Johnston advance: North Johnston, ranked ninth in the nation by MaxPreps, moved on in the 2A softball playoffs with a 10-2 victory over Bertie. The Panthers (23-0) had not allowed a run in their previous 16 games.
North will meet defending state champion Wilson Beddingfield on Friday in a rematch of last years eastern regional championship series. North already had two wins over Beddingfield this season.
South Johnston (20-5) downed Western Alamance 6-4 in the 3A playoffs. The Trojans will host Burlington Williams (12-7) on Friday.
Princeton moves on in 1A softball: Tori Paul held Hobbton to two hits in a 2-0 Princeton victory Tuesday. Paul also drove in a run for the Bulldogs (18-2), who will meet conference rival Goldsboro Rosewood (14-7) in the third round Friday. Princeton won both regular season meetings between the two teams.
J. Mike Blake, Jay Mumford and Mike Potter contributed to this report.