Smithfield: Sports

Princeton advances with win over Hobbton, wants more

Princeton's Hailey Wood (9) scores the go-ahead run in the fourth inning as Hobbton catcher Taylor Bowden (1) is late on the tag.
Princeton's Hailey Wood (9) scores the go-ahead run in the fourth inning as Hobbton catcher Taylor Bowden (1) is late on the tag.

A trait that most great teams possess is never being satisfied no matter the accomplishment or the performance.

As the Princeton softball team won its 16th game in a row Tuesday night in the second round of the state 1A playoffs with a 2-0 triumph over visiting Hobbton, the Bulldogs were victors because of what was there but are driven by wanting to improve upon what wasn’t.

What was there was a near flawless pitching performance from both starting pitcher Tori Paul and reliever Hailey Wood.

Paul went six strong innings allowing just a pair of seeing-eye singles and a pair of walks while striking out eight batters.

The defense was there as well as Princeton committed no errors in 11 total chances.

“I was pretty nervous,” Paul admitted, alluding to the tension of the low scoring contest. “I couldn’t have done it without my team who stayed behind me.”

Wood came on to close the deal in the seventh and did so with flair as she struck out the final three batters after hitting leadoff batter Hannah Warren to bring the potential game-tying run to the plate.

“They did a great job pitching,” Princeton coach Terry Braswell said of his effective one-two punch. “The pitching and the defense are there.”

What was not there was the offense, a trend that Braswell has noticed over the past few weeks.

The Bulldogs were able to muster enough offense to get the win, however.

Princeton did all the damage it needed with a pair of RBI groundouts.

With Wood and Logan Pace getting on board each with a single in the bottom of the fourth, Kasey Johnson’s grounder to Hobbton first baseman Casey Hobbs was enough to score Wood from third as the freshman slid just under the tag at home plate on the return throw.

Then in the fifth, a Taylor Carroll sacrifice bunt moved Charley Cox, who led off with a single, all the way to third base as no one was covering the bag on the play.

Paul next grounded out to shortstop Michaela Watson but Cox scored the Bulldogs’ second run of the game on the throw to first.

But scattering six hits and stranding six runners on base won’t get this Bulldogs team to where it wants to go this postseason.

“The last two to three weeks, we have been down with our bats,” said Braswell. “We’re just a little impatient and getting out on that front leg.

“They’ve got to come alive for us to keep playing.”

Pace was the only player on the night to collect two hits for Princeton.

Princeton was scheduled to take on conference rival Rosewood in the third round of the NCHSAA playoffs. The Bulldogs would be looking for their third win over the Eagles in just 32 days as Princeton bested its Carolina 1A Conference rivals in both prior meetings this season.