GARNER Garner had plenty of hits in their second round N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A playoff softball game, but they didn’t get enough of them at the right time to hold off Wilmington’s Hoggard High.
The visiting Vikings advanced to the third round of the state playoffs with a 3-1 win over Garner thanks to a three-run third inning that proved to be all they needed.
“We really didn’t do anything wrong tonight,” Garner coach Moe Barbour said. “We got plenty of hits, we just didn’t get enough timely hits.”
In fact, Garner had baserunners on early and often, but failed to piece together enough good at-bats to take advantage of the baserunners. The Trojans put baserunners on in every inning.
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Garner’s first scoring threat came in the second inning when Samantha Armstrong singled to right. Kari Sutton’s bunt was fielded by Hoggard pitcher Morgan Mathis, but the throw to first was high. Armstrong advanced to third on the overthrow and with one out, Garner was in business.
But Mathis buckled down and got Kristina D’Arco to strikeout before inducing an inning-ending ground ball from Sydney Jones.
That defensive stand propelled the Lady Vikings into the top of the third, which was the only time Hoggard made much offensive noise.
Garner pitcher Samantha Weidner got one out on a fielder’s choice, but Brianna Anderson advanced to second when Weidner walked Olivia Hawkins. Aleah Thompson singled to bring Anderson home for a 1-0 lead. After Weidner gave up another walk to load the bases leftfielder Melissa Marks smacked a two-run single to extend the lead to 3-0 and chase Weidner.
Freshman Kristina Cardenas spelled Weidner on the mound and stopped the bleeding.
Despite the erratic play at the plate, Garner was still in the game heading into the bottom half of the seventh.
Senior Alisha Josey, who was Garner’s most consistent hitter all night, doubled to left field on a ball that bounced off the outfield fence before it hit the ground. Haleigh Joyner singled, but Josey held up at third before scoring on a single by clean up hitter Libby Bynum.
But with the bases still loaded and only one out, Garner couldn’t get any more runners across the plate and Hoggard moved on to a third-round date with Wake Forest High School.
Josey, Garner’s only senior, said her team had opportunities all night long.
“It just didn’t happen, Sometimes something you want so bad just isn’t meant to be,” Josey said. “Right now, it’s hard to accept.”
Josey credited Mathis, Hoggard’s pitcher, for throwing a good game.
“She had several good pitches tonight. Her change up was good. We had a number folks get out on that and she had a good riser,” Josey said.
The loss ends Garner’s season at 18-4 overall, 12-1 with another Greater Neuse River regular season title.
Barbour says the playoff experience was good for his team even if the outcome wasn’t.
“We are such a young team. We only had three players with any playoff experience,” Barbour said. “But next year, all these girls will have had that experience. And playoff softball just isn’t like regular season softball, no matter what anyone says.”