North Johnston and Princeton played another close, hard fought battle Friday afternoon in the finals of the Pikeville Insurance Invitational softball tournament. And the result was the same as the first meeting: a 4-3 victory for North Johnston.
The Panthers (7-4) rallied from a 3-0 deficit to take the tournament title.
Senior Kaylynn Batten was named the tournament MVP after scoring the game-winning run in the sixth inning.
“I felt that we kept our composure after falling behind early,” said North coach Chris Batten. “Princeton hit the ball well and put base runners on early but could not capitalize with a big inning.
“In the fifth (inning), we were able to hustle on some close plays, putting some pressure on Princeton.”
A pair of fielding errors put two runners — Sherrod and Kaylynn Batten — on to start the North fifth inning. Lexi Godwin added a single to load the bases before a fielder’s choice from Stewart pushed Sherrod home for North’s first run.
Batten scored when Olivia Narron got down a sacrifice bunt, which pushed two Panther runners into scoring position.
Emma Turner followed with a line drive single to right, scoring Godwin with the game-tying run.
A walk to Sherrod helped get North’s game-winning series going. After a pair of fielder’s choice groundouts, Santiago came to the plate with two outs and Batten at second base with the potential game-winning run.
Santiago worked a full count, fouling off a pair of pitches before a single to left field scored Batten for a 4-3 North Johnston lead.
Santiago was 3-for-4 for the Panthers, while Emma Turner went 2-for-4. Batten, Godwin and Narron had single hits.
Princeton scored runs in each of its first three at bats, to build its 3-0 lead.
Kortney Edwards singled home a run with one out in the first, then Taylor Carroll singled home another run — this one with two outs — in the second.
The Bulldogs’ third-inning run came on Edwards’ solo home run to left.
Brianna Myers also had two hits for Princeton, while Kelsey Peedin, Charley Cox and Carroll had one hit each.
But Princeton (8-2) was only able to muster one hit in the final three innings. That hit came in the fifth where the Bulldogs put another runner on base after a Panther error, but Turner got a ground ball out to end the inning and the Bulldogs’ last scoring threat.
Turner got the pitching victory with six innings of work, allowing four hits.
The Panthers hope the tournament win, and a second win over a talented Princeton team, will help get them rolling again after a challenging first half of the season.
“Anytime you can go on the road against a very good team and come out with a win, you have to be pleased,” Batten said. “It was a good two days for us as we get ready to get back into conference play this week.”
Pikeville Insurance Invitational
Thursday’s results: North Johnston 7, Triton 1; Princeton 4, Midway 0
Consolation Game: Triton def. Midway
Championship Game: North Johnston 4, Princeton 3
Most Valuable Player: Kaylynn Batten (North Johnston)
All-Tournament Team: Brianna Myers (Princeton), Kelsey Pondo (Midway), Emma Turner (North Johnston), Annie Tyndall (Triton)