Princeton’s made it through the first quarter of its Carolina 1A Conference softball schedule fully in command of its future. The Bulldogs, regarded as one of the top 1A teams in the state, are 4-0 in the league and have given up only seven runs through their first eight games.
And coming off of a run to the regional championship series, Princeton is poised to make another deep playoff run potentially, riding a lineup both heavy on softball playoff experience and state championship experience.
Seven members of the Bulldogs’ softball team already has a state championship in hand this school year, coming with the volleyball team.
“That experience, it’s going to help our confidence level later in the playoffs,” said Princeton coach Terry Braswell. “Because they know what it feels like at that level now, what it takes to win and the level of play you have to maintain and expand every round of the playoffs.”
The only blemish on the Bulldogs’ schedule is a 12-inning loss to North Johnston, one of the teams Princeton will welcome for the Pikeville Insurance Invitational starting Thursday. North meets Triton at 5 p.m. in the tournament opener, while Princeton takes on Spring Creek at 7. The winners meet Friday night at 7.
“We’ve added a couple of freshmen and they’ve shown well,” Braswell said. “They’ve fit right in with our regulars. It’s like they’ve been here all along now.”
One of those freshmen, Casey Mitchell, is second among the team regulars in batting average at .480 through seven games. Sophomore Beth Braswell leads the Bulldogs with a .500 average (10-for-20) with two home runs and 10 RBIs.
The Bulldogs are batting .366 as a team with six players over the .385 mark. Sophomore Kasey Edwards leads the team with 13 RBIs and Taylor Carroll (.391) has driven in nine runs. Senior Logan Pace is hitting .421.
“Our bats are starting to get to where we wanted to see them at,” Braswell said. “We feel like our defense has always been there, it’s just making sure that holds.”
Princeton’s biggest challenge in the Carolina 1A Conference race doesn’t come until the end of the month. North Duplin is 4-0 entering the holiday break as well in league games. The first meeting between the two teams was postponed because of weather. Princeton visits North Duplin on April 20 and hosts the Rebels on May 1.
“Every year, it’s the same process you start with no matter how much experience you have coming back,” Braswell said. “You’re just working to get better and better throughout the season.”