Beating your fiercest rival isn’t easy no matter the circumstances. Rosewood proved that to Princeton again on the softball diamond in both teams’ regular-season finale.
Still, Princeton notched the victory topping the Eagles 9-8 to complete its second consecutive unbeaten run in Carolina 1A Conference play. The eighth straight conference championship for the Bulldogs had already been wrapped up a week before.
Now, the Bulldogs (15-4) enter the NCHSAA playoffs this week looking for another long run and trying to carry over the lessons they learned during the regular-season.
“This game like every other one shows you that you have to get up to play every game,” said Princeton coach Terry Braswell. “Once the playoffs start, we know if we have a game like this, chances are that’s going to be the one game that costs us.”
The Bulldogs made seven errors on the night and let Rosewood grab the game’s momentum several times only to come right back with a solid offensive frame or two.
Princeton edged ahead for the final time in the top of the sixth, loading the bases on singles by Logan Pace, Carson Braswell and Charley Cox. A passed ball allowed Kortney Edwards (who reached on a fielder’s choice) to score the go-ahead run and when Taylor Carroll was hit by a pitch, Braswell came home for a 9-7 lead.
The Bulldogs’ stellar hitting — as it has many times throughout the season — made up for the rare off defensive night. Princeton was 14-for-35 at the plate on the night, a notch above the .353 team batting average it carries for the 2014 season.
Savanna Massengill leads the Bulldogs’ regulars (those who have played 16 games or more) with a .419 average entering the postseason. Freshman Beth Braswell is hitting .412 and Taylor Carroll is almost on that pace at .410.
Coach Braswell says the Bulldogs’ work at the plate has improved through the season.
“We’re doing a better job of waiting on pitches, especially in the last two or three games,” he said. “That’s having better discipline to pick out good pitches to hit and adjusting to slower pitching, both.”
The Bulldogs have the benefit of two pitchers, who often both throw in the same game, in Tori Paul and Hailey Wood and have thrown other pitchers at times as well.
But with another trip to the Walnut Creek Softball Complex for the state finals as their goal, all of that will not matter if the wins don’t continue to come.
“That’s the only way to approach it is one game at a time,” Coach Braswell said. “That’s your season right now, just playing one game to get the chance to play another one.”