Jordan-Matthews pitcher Holly Clark used her arm – and her bat – to lead the Jets past North Johnston on Wednesday night in the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 2A softball playoffs.
Clark pitched a complete game and belted a pair of two-run home runs as Jordan-Matthews – the top seed in the Eastern 2A bracket – rolled to a 12-3 victory over the eighth-seeded Panthers.
“I wasn’t expecting to do that,” Clark said. “I just tried to hit the ball and it went over the fence.”
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Clark added a double for good measure in a 3-for-3 day that led Jordan-Matthews’ 13-hit attack.
“Early in the game we did a bad job of hanging too many pitches around the wheel well and they did a good job of hitting them,” North Johnston coach Chris Batten said. “(Clark) did a good job of hitting what we gave her. She is a good hitter, but we’ve seen some good hitters this year.”
Jordan-Matthews (24-1) took a 3-0 lead in the first inning when Clark hit her first blast over the wall in left-center. The Jets added five runs in the third when Clark hit her second two-run shot.
North Johnston, which finished its season 17-8, scored three runs in the fourth when Clark got a little wild and walked three batters. Jordyn Scott had a two-run single and Kelly added an RBI double in the inning for the Jets.
The inning might have been bigger but for the fact that a Panthers runner was picked off first base.
“We had a good little run and showed a little bit of discipline in the middle of the game,” Batten said. “Had an unfortunate call go against us, getting picked off first.”
Jordan-Matthews added one run in the fifth and three in the sixth for its 12-run total.
Clark, a senior who improved to 20-1 on the season, gave up just five hits. She walked four and struck out nine.
“She pitched well,” Batten said. “But we’ve got to be better disciplined at the plate. We stayed out in front of pitches, couldn’t sit back and wait. She moved the ball. But we just weren’t very disciplined at the plate.”
Batten said he hoped his team would learn from the loss.
“I hope this lights a fire under my younger players to work hard for next year,” said Batten, who will lose four seniors off this team.
The Panthers finished as a co-champion in the Eastern Plains 2A Conference with an 8-2 record and played a tough nonconference schedule. Jordan-Matthews gets another EPC co-champ in the fourth round in Washington.
North Johnston loses four players to graduation: Olivia Stewart, Olivia Narron, Emma Turner and Autom Burkens.
“We’ve been fortunate to be competitive year in and year out,” Batten said. “Am I happy we bowed out in the third round (of the playoffs)? No. But I’m glad to be here.
“I’m not going to say it was an up and down year. We had seven losses (in the regular season) and they all came to playoff teams.”