North Johnston’s softball team scored all of its runs in the final three innings to slowly retake the lead from rival and previously undefeated Beddingfield before putting some distance between it and the Bruins.
Down by 1 for most of the game, the Panthers won 4-2 Tuesday night in the first stanza of an Eastern Plains 2A Conference showdown. The second meeting is scheduled for Friday, but could be moved up to Thursday to avoid rain.
“Tonight we didn’t hit the ball that well and we had to find a way to manufacture a run early,” North Johnston coach Chris Batten said. “I’d rather win ugly than lose pretty sometimes.”
Beddingfield (9-1, 2-1) scored in the bottom of the first on a two-out rally. After the first two batters struck out, the Bruins drew a walk, then got an infield single before Savannah Barberio cracked an RBI single.
But North Johnston (8-3, 3-0) pitcher Amberlynn Pearce settled in. She struck out 14 batters on the night and gave up just five hits.
“My rise-ball was what I worked on mostly, because they chase it,” Pearce said.
Bruins pitcher Brianna Hale retired the first 11 batters she faced, but the Panthers slowly caught up while taking advantage of walks.
In the fifth inning, North Johnston loaded the bases with a walk, infield single and bunt single. Hale got the second out with a force play at home, but walked the next batter, Lindsey Massengill, which tied the game at 1-all.
North Johnston’s Hannah Wall reached third on a single and two-base error that brought in Pearce to start the top of the sixth. North Johnston led 2-1. In the seventh, Jordyn Scott led off the inning with a solo home run to left-center field and Wall drove in a runner from third later in the inning for her second RBI to go up 4-1.
The Bruins’ Savannah Pierce scored Lindsey Godwin on an infield single in the bottom of the seventh, but the rally didn’t last.
“I told my girls that we thought (North Johnston) is one of the best teams in the 2A East and try to stay positive,” Beddingfield coach Jeremy Howard said. “We just talked about cleaning some things up, but really the main point of emphasis in the postgame talk was about offense. We’ve got to have better approaches at the plate.”