Panther Creek won a thriller in its program’s first playoff game, downing perennial softball power Wake Forest, 4-3, Wednesday night.
Led by freshman pitcher Cassidy Somers, who posted a line of 10 hits, two strikeouts, and one walk, the Catamounts held the Cougars to only three runs, the lowest offensive output from Wake Forest since a 4-3 loss to Leesville Road on April 9.
“One of those [impact] players was our freshman pitcher Cassidy Somers,” Panther Creek coach Bryan Cromer said. “We began the season with three quality pitchers and towards the end of our season, she stood alone. ... “Our team is filled with stars and even more potential stars. Some may stand out a little more than others, but everyone contributes, knows that they have a purpose, and brings their contribution to the table when called on.”
Panther Creek (9-9, 6-9 SWAC), a wild card selection, never trailed top-seeded Wake Forest, (16-2-1, 13-1 Cap Eight), a team that made it to the NCHSAA 4A championship series last season.
“We have a lot of respect for Panther Creek, as they are a young team that has gotten a lot better since the beginning of season,” Wake Forest coach Sam Hershey said. “We know they have been beating some really good teams late in the game just to come up a little short so we definitely take them very seriously.”
The Catamounts advance to face fellow Southwest Wake Athletic Conference team Fuquay-Varina in the second round of the NCHSAA 4A state playoffs.
“I was kind of nervous, but I knew that we could pull it out,” Somers said. “Nobody expected us to, but we had good defense and good offense. We’ve played (Fuquay-Varina) twice already and [both teams] will be playing hard [in the next game].”
Fuquay won both conference matchups this season, including a come-from-behind 12-10 victory over the Catamounts in the teams’ second meeting last month.
Cromer called Panther Creek’s May 5 loss to Apex the turning point of the season, saying, “The team realized that we were a team regardless of who we faced and they stepped up to the challenge that lay before us.”