The Princeton girls softball team shut out a high scoring East Carteret squad 4-0 at home Saturday to advance to the third round of the NCHSAA 1A playoffs.
Hailey Wood was in complete control from the first inning on as she mowed down 13 Mariner batters and surrendered just three base hits over seven innings to the visitors from the Coastal Plains Conference.
After Wood struck out the top of the order in the opening inning, it took Princeton’s leadoff hitter Charley Cox just one pitch to apply the pressure on the Mariners in the bottom of the frame.
Cox singled to right on the first pitch she saw but advanced to third as the ball got through the legs of the East Carteret right fielder. Cox later scored on a wild pitch and Casey Mitchell’s triple brought home Taylor Carroll for the quick 2-0 lead.
“That kind of got everyone under ease and made them want to play,” veteran Princeton coach Terry Braswell said of the quick start that Cox set in motion.
Cox delivered again in the second and plated Megan Bryant on a double to the gap in left centerfield, which proved to be more than enough run support for Wood.
The junior had three innings in which she retired the East Carteret side in order and allowed just one base runner an inning the remaining four frames on three scattered base hits and one walk.
The Mariners (19-4) entered the contest on a six game win streak and had averaged over 11 runs a game for the season.
“We just prepared defensively,” said Braswell. “Hailey did a great job on the mound and we made the few plays we needed to make.”
The Bulldogs (17-4) ran their unbeaten streak to seven games and will travel to take on Pinetown Northside, the overall No. 1 seed in the 1A East and champions of the Coastal Plains Conference, in the third round.
The two teams met in the third round of the playoffs a year ago with Princeton advancing with a 9-3 win.
Braswell credits his team’s earlier losses in the season to North Duplin and North Johnston (three times) and, more specifically, the lessons his team learned from those close defeats as being at the center of the Bulldogs’ typical late-season charge this year.
“We just didn’t hit the ball,” remarked Braswell. “Believe it or not, that’s helped us. We’ve been hitting the ball a little better since then and it showed them that we needed to play.”
Logan Pace drove in the game’s final run on a sacrifice fly in the sixth while Beth Braswell, Megan Bryant, Kortney Edwards and Hailey Wood accounted for the other hits for Princeton.
Historic season ends for Princeton soccer squad
Chapel Hill Woods Charter’s constant pressure paid off in five second-half goals as the Wolves downed Princeton 6-0 Saturday night in the second round of the 1A playoffs.
Martha Farrell and Mackenzie Abbott scored two goals each for Woods Charter (17-3-1) in the win.
The Bulldogs finished the season with a 16-4 record and graduate seven seniors: McKenzie Smale, Jessica Brush, Jordan Johnson, Kassandra Valasquez, Kathy Hewitt, Kayla Dominiguez and Jenna Woodard. The class of 2015 had a winning percentage of .783 in their four seasons together, posting a 65-18-2 mark.
The 16 wins this season was the most in school history for a Princeton girls soccer team.
D. Clay Best contributed.