West Johnston’s softball team avenged an early-season loss to rival Cleveland, scoring a pair of late runs to break a 3-all tie and defeat the Rams 5-3 in a nonconference game Wednesday night.
The Wildcats (4-1) went ahead for good in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Leadoff batter Nadia Blevins led off the inning with an infield single, stole second and scored on a single by Kaitlyn Tucker, who wound up on third base when the throw home sailed over the catcher’s head. Tucker then scored on a sacrifice fly by pitcher Tatum Brummitt.
“That’s the way it usually works out,” West Johnston coach Laura Jefferson said of the home-and-home split between the two rivals who are separated by only a few miles. “When we played Cleveland at their place (a 3-0 Cleveland victory), they were very up. They were ready for us. They are a great team, a young team. ... It just went our way this time.”
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Brummitt went the distance for the Wildcats, striking out six.
“Tatum has done great on the mound,” Jefferson said. “She is the best first baseman in the state and is going to (UNC-)Pembroke to play first base. To take her off there is tough, but she is doing tremendous pitching.”
Brummitt helped herself at the plate, walking and scoring a run in West Johnston’s two-run first inning and belting an RBI double to in the second to give the Wildcats a 3-0 lead.
Cleveland (3-2) rallied in the fourth, getting a one-out double from Rebecca Straka, a single from Ali Papworth and walk to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Caris Allen, a freshman, then delivered a bases-clearing double to tie the score at 3-3.
“The fans always get their money’s worth (when these two teams play),” Cleveland coach James Morris said. “The two schools are only miles apart. It’s unbelievable the quality of ball these two teams put together year after year. It’s going to get even more exciting next year when we are in the same conference.”
Cleveland is a member of the Two Rivers 3A Conference. West Johnson is in the Greater Neuse 4A Conference but both will be in the Greater Neuse 3A next year.