Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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Lady Patriots look for push as softball season approaches critical stretch

By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

Southern Alamance gained plenty from Friday’s 4-1 softball victory against visiting Durham Jordan.

Most of all, the Lady Patriots were happy how they handled a competitive game.

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“It was good to have a closer game,” shortstop Greta Hessentahler said. “I enjoy having competition. You had to be focused more. Kind of keeps us on our toes.”

Southern’s Greta Hessenthaler will continue her softball career at the collegiate level next fall at Elon.

Southern has cruised in DAC-VII Conference games, winning all nine such outings by a combined score of 151-4.

Coach Jon Russell has tried to schedule stiff non-conference games, but weather issues and scheduling snags have interfered. Three such games were nixed last week, including a rematch with North Davidson.

Southern softball coach Jon Russell

“We need competitive games,” Russell said. “We want to be pushed. We want to be pushed in a competitive atmosphere.”

So defeating Durham Jordan, whose only previous DAC-VII loss came by 21-2 at home to Southern, by a narrow margin turned out to be a good thing.

Southern pitcher Rylee Humble had to dodge a couple of jams, including with a runner on third base with no outs in one inning and the potential tying run coming to the plate in the seventh.

Southern pitcher Rylee Humble

“It was a little bit (of pressure),” Humble said. “I was doing my best to not (let it be close). It’s more entertaining.”

One threat from Durham Jordan (13-4, 8-2) was doused in part by first baseman Ava Duggins making a diving catch of a foul ball.

Ava Duggins

“We played clean defense,” Duggins said. “That’s one of our stronger suits.”

Humble, a junior, has been in control in most games this season.

“She wants to do a good job for herself and her teammates,” Russell said.

Southern scored a run in the first inning and three more in the fifth.

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The Patriots were the Class 3-A state champions in 2021, when there was a shortened season because of the pandemic after most of the 2020 season was cancelled. Since then, Southern has moved back to Class 4-A.

In the past seven full seasons, the Patriots have collected 20 or more wins every year.

Going into the last week of the regular season, Southern (13-3 overall) can clinch the DAC-VII championship with another victory. The closer-than-normal result Friday was deemed a positive from the Patriots’ perspective.

“This is good for us,” Russell said. “Playoffs are right around the corner.”

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