When East Wake’s softball team visited Apex in the first round of the NCHSAA 4A playoffs on Tuesday night, the tension of a low-scoring tied game had built to a crescendo. Each team struggled to gain an advantage until one play changed the game.
Shelby Poliachik’s double scored sophomore Lauren Barrett in the bottom of the sixth inning and Julia Cerasi notched her fifth strikeout of the game in the top of the seventh to seal a 2-1 Apex win.
The game was close all the way through, something that East Wake head coach Melissa Bell is all too familiar with.
“This has been the way the season has gone for us,” Bell said. “Most of our games have been close; this is our fourth close loss this season. Apex played a great game and got some good hits.”
The 11-seed Cougars (17-4) will play at 6-see Southern Alamance on Friday or Saturday.
“It definitely feels good going forward knowing we can pull out a close one,” Apex coach Bonnie Hodge said.
Neither team waited to get runners on base to begin the game.
The Warriors (11-7) started the game strongly, earning two singles and putting a runner in scoring position with one out in the first inning, but failed to score.
Apex answered by loading the bases with no outs after a shaky start by East Wake pitcher Annabeth Watkins who gave up two walks and one base hit. After a mound visit to stave off any nerves, Watkins went on to strike out the next three Cougar batters, eventually finishing the game with eight strikeouts.
Apex scored first on a two-out RBI triple in the second inning by senior outfielder Bailey Hathaway.
East Wake managed to gain some momentum in the sixth inning following a double by junior Haley Glover, which placed the tying run into scoring position. A sacrifice fly by Watkins tied the game 1-1.
The Cougars responded immediately in the bottom of the sixth, as Barrett reached base after being hit by a pitch and reached second following a sacrifice bunt. Poliachik then doubled to left to score Barrett, giving the Cougars the lead.
East Wake never managed to recover from the loss of momentum, grounding out twice and striking out to end the game and their season.
The Warriors consider this playoff loss a learning experience and look forward to next season.
“We are returning all of our starters except for one, so we’re coming back with the same team,” Bell said.