Western Alamance knocks Lady Jackets from state tourney
Lee County's softball team played how head coach Miles McCaskill wanted it to play in the first round of the state playoffs Wednesday evening. The Lady Yellow Jackets just came up a play or two short as Western Alamance (13-7) advanced by Lee County (13-5) with a 5-3 win.
"The girls battled hard," McCaskill said, "I just asked them, with it being a playoff game, to give all you've got and leave it on the field between the lines and they did."
Senior pitcher Courtney Rudd shut down most of the Jacket batting order in a five-hit complete game.
Two young Lady Jackets, freshman Whitney Sanford then sophomore Morgan Pedley, in a lineup which may be nearly identical next season, held Western Alamance for six of the seven innings. The one big Lady Warrior inning - five runs in the fourth - was too big to overcome.
Two Lady Jackets had success versus Rudd. Chandler Patterson, the lone senior in Lee County's starting lineup Wednesday, blasted a lined home run over the left-center field fence for a two-run homer putting Lee County ahead in the first inning.
Sanford left the bases loaded in the visitor's first and third innings, but had no such luck in the fourth.
The Lady Warriors strung together two walks and three base hits knocking Sanford from the circle for Pedley. Two inherited runners scored on a single plus an error by the first hitter Pedley faced leaving a 5-2 Lady Warrior lead by the time Lee County ended the rally.
Western Alamance walked Patterson beginning the home half of the fourth and with two outs Jacie Arrington, another of McCaskill's freshmen, shot one to the gap in right-center for an RBI double.
Arrington, who suffered a bloody, and maybe worse, nose from a pickoff throw to first hitting her in the face during the Lady Warrior fourth, finished the game 2 for 3 and Patterson was 2 for 2 adding a double in the sixth.
Pedley held Western Alamance to no runs and two hits in 3.1 innings allowing no walks and getting two strikeouts.
Rudd gave up one half-intentional walk to Patterson and struck out 10. Lee County got a runner on base, bringing the tying run to the plate, in the sixth and seventh innings, but no more versus Rudd.
Most of the Lady Jacket team will be back next season, and even in spring 2016 and spring 2017 for that matter.
"I told the underclassmen, their potential is unlimited," McCaskill said.
"It's been great for them to learn from our seniors and from teams like Gray's Creek (the Cape Fear Valley season and tournament champion) and Western Alamance," he said.
Lee County loses Makayla Gross, Stephanie Dunne and Patterson, who will be playing for Campbell University for the next four years.
"Campbell's getting a great student-athlete, but they're also getting a great person as well," McCaskill said.