Sunday, May 19, 2024

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Eagles rally in seventh past Southern, keep title hopes alive


By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

Eastern Alamance’s softball team was down to its last out in a must-win game against Southern Alamance on Tuesday night when the clutch at-bats came in rapid succession.

Taylor Byrd’s two-out single in the seventh inning tied the score and Kinley Henderson followed with a two-run home run, propelling the Eagles to a 5-3 road victory and further complicating the top of the Central 3-A Conference standings.

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Eastern’s Kinley Henderson

Eastern (13-8 overall, 9-2 Central 3-A Conference), Southern (17-4, 9-2) and Orange (14-5, 9-2) share first place with one game each remaining.

“Playing teams like this is so much fun,” Henderson said. “Helping each other stay up.”

That’s what it took for Eastern after falling behind for the first time in the sixth inning.

Eastern’s Destiny Carreiro reached on a single to begin the seventh before a pair of outs. Byrd, a senior center fielder, said the Eagles didn’t lose hope.

“Our whole goal is to stay up from start to finish,” Byrd said. “We still managed to come back and finish strong.”

Byrd came through with a game-tying single before Henderson’s blast, with the ball bouncing off the top of the fence in right-center field and carrying over for the junior’s second home run of the season.

“It was crazy because I got behind in the count,” she said.

Eastern coach Danny Way said the Eagles strive to excel in these situations.

“We practice this a lot, putting them in the pressure cooker,” he said. “They really, really responded.”

Delani Straughan pitched a perfect bottom of the seventh as Eastern avenged an 11-7 loss from eight nights earlier.

Southern can still share the title by winning Friday night at fourth-place Western Alamance. That would put the Patriots even with the winner of Orange’s game at Eastern on Thursday night.

Southern pitcher Rylee Humble worked out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the second inning by allowing only one run on Carreiro’s single.

The Patriots tied the game at 2-2 in the third on Maycee Tickle’s single. Ava Duggins drilled a two-out single to provide Southern with a 3-2 lead in the sixth.

“Some of the best comes when there’s pressure on us,” Byrd said. “It makes the achievement so much better.”


Other softball notables …

  • Southern won 8-4 on Friday at Orange to move into first place.
  • Eastern swept a doubleheader at Roxboro Person, winning 4-1 and 7-1 on Friday to set up the latest showdown. Rebecca Alston homered in both games and Byrd had a long ball in the opener. Straughan logged two pitching victories.
  • Williams (2-13, 0-11) has been blanked in back-to-back Central E-A Conference games going into the season finale Friday vs. visiting Roxboro Person.
  • Fifth-place Southeast Alamance lost 15-5 at fourth-place Bartlett Yancey in Monday’s Mid-Carolina Conference Tournament quarterfinals.
  • Graham’s season ended with a 0-17 record with Monday’s 16-1 loss at regular-season champion Chatham Central in the Mid-Carolina Conference Tournament.

But there’s more softball to be played at Graham’s field, which is the predetermined site for the conference tournament title game at 6:00 p.m. Friday.

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