North Johnston’s baseball and softball teams both advanced to the third round of the 2A playoffs Friday night, but in very different fashions. The Panther baseball team never trailed in a 7-3 win over Farmville Central at home, while North Johnston rallied for a 6-4, extra-inning softball win over Elizabeth City Northeastern on the road.
North scores six in its final three at bats
North Johnston trailed 4-0 entering the sixth inning, but found its touch at the plate in a rematch of last year’s 2A playoffs.
Olivia Narron, Jada Santiago and Olivia Stewart drove in runs in the sixth to cut Northeastern’s lead to 4-3. In the seventh, the Panthers pulled even when Kelly White singled and later scored.
In the eighth, Stewart put the Panthers (17-6) ahead for the first time with a home run over the center field fence that also scored Santiago.
Lexi Godwin got the win for the Panthers in relief, who will visit South Lenoir (18-2-1) in the third round.
Panthers keep rolling in baseball
On the baseball diamond, North Johnston just keeps winning with a simple approach: score early and pitch well.
The Panthers did both of that in notching their third win of the season over Eastern Plains Conference rival Farmville Central at Doug Parnell Field.
The Panthers (19-4) led 5-0 after three frames and didn’t give up their first runs of the playoffs until the sixth.
“We’re coming together at the right time,” said North coach Brian Ford. “We’ve got a group of talented young players led by some outstanding senior leadership. The kids are assuming their roles and executing in a lot of situations.”
North lead off man Blake McLean singled to start the game, then Rusty Renfrow reached when he was hit by a pitch. After a sacrifice by Garrett Littleton, Dallas Krob singled to score McLean. Renfrow came home on a Jaguar error to push the lead to 2-0 before a single by Micahel Stott loaded the bases. Chad Little worked a one-out walk to force home Krob for a 3-0 lead. Farmville Central (16-9) got out of the inning without any more damage.
But the Panthers added to the lead in the next two innings when Krob singled in Renfrow in the second and Little scored on an Jacob Wall groundout after walking, moving to second on a sacrifice bunt and taking third on a wild pitch.
North added two more runs in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Krob and Radford’s RBI single.
McLean went 3-for-4, while Renfrow, Krob and Radford all had two-hit nights.
Central pushed across two runs in the fourth and one in the seventh, but left runners at second and third without scoring in the sixth.
Radford worked 6.2 innings and gave up two runs to get the win. Steven Worley came on to get a ground ball for the save.
“We thought that was the right time to take Radford out,” Ford said. “He had done a great job but was tiring and Worley’s job is to close for us and that’s just what he did.”
North will play at fourth-seeded Fairmont in the third round.