Only the most pessimistic local sports fan would have predicted after Tuesday’s third round playoff action in softball and baseball not a single Columbus County team would advance. However, that is exactly what occurred.
Without getting into any statistics and with the admission that I only saw one of these games I offer a few reactions.
Vance Charter 11 East Columbus 5
I attended this game. Honestly, I let the school name lull me into a false sense of “security.” It has been my experience that charters (with the exception of Voyage Academy in baseball) are usually out talented by the third round. I say in my experience because I’m going on what I have seen against local teams, not statewide.
I left the game feeling that Vance Charter was the most complete softball team I had seen this season. The pitching wasn’t overpowering, but the defense was solid, even superb at times. I was suspect of a team batting average entering the game of well over .400. Just like the Monkees sang, ‘I’m a Believer.” Oh, before I forget, NO SENIORS.
South Granville 5 Whiteville 0
South Granville softball has been what Whiteville baseball has been over the past several seasons. The expectation is to win it all. And let’s be real here. Is there another high school team sport position that can be more influential than the pitcher in softball? South Granville sophomore Brooke Bowling was 24-0 as a freshman and is now 14-1 this year. So, unless she declares early for the draft, Bowling will be a force to be reckoned with for two more years. If this is your first time reading my “stuff”, I know the draft thing isn’t real.
The good news for Whiteville is they only lose one piece of this year’s puzzle. Kiara Wilson will leave a large hole to fill, both offensively and defensively. Still, the future is still bright for Wolfpack softball.
Edenton Holmes 4 West Columbus 2
I mentioned expectation to win it all as being a positive for South Granville softball. Was it a negative for West Columbus baseball this season? It really is impossible to know, but last year’s run to the state finals meant the Vikings would not surprise anyone this season. Plus, they drew an Edenton Holmes team possessing a rich baseball tradition itself.
West Columbus baseball will not go away. However, some names you have heard a little about this season will need to step into some key roles next year.
Randleman 3 Whiteville 2
Baseball was first played in New York state and invented by Alexander Cartwright. I say that to emphasize teams other than Whiteville know how to play and can play well. Maybe it is time for Whiteville fans to reflect on how fortunate they have been to be along for the ride this program has been on since 2012. I’m certain the “if s and buts” from Tuesday’s game will be replayed for days. That actually is one of the fun things about being a sports fan. But don’t let the disappointment of one game diminish the great moments you have enjoyed over the last several seasons.
Here is an “if” you put in your pipe. Geography was as much a culprit tonight as anything else. Most years Randleman would have been in the West. Longitude put the top three teams (at least according to MaxPreps ranking) all in the East.
Expectations and tradition can be great things to draw from. They also can be a burden to carry and create extra pressure. Only Brann Reid wins all the time.
Finally, if you had East Bladen, Washington, Bunn and Randleman as your final four teams remaining in the 2A East baseball bracket, PLEASE pick some lottery numbers for me!