Pitching, defense guide Laney softball; Topsail, Hoggard bats explode in lopsided wins

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Hits were hard to come by on Tuesday night, but the Laney softball team made big play after big play in the field and used a strong performance from Paige Cruse in the circle as the Bucs avenged an early season setback to West Brunswick with a 1-0 triumph in Buctown.

Laney has now won seven games in a row, improving to 7-2 in conference and 13-5 overall. The Bucs remain one game back from Topsail for top spot in the division.

Laney stayed in the hunt for top spot in conference.
Laney stayed in the hunt for top spot in conference.

“At this time of the season the scoreboard is what tells the story and tonight we got it done,” said Laney Coach Jim Fisk. “Paige Cruse has come in and done an awesome job for us. She’s been getting great support on the back side and that’s what won the game.”

Cruse scattered four hits, with one walk and three strikeouts. She also recorded the only hit for Laney, spoiling a no-hitter by Myah Morse following a one-out triple to the opposite field in the sixth.

With two outs and the bases loaded after a pair of walks and hit by pitch in the fourth, the Bucs scored the only run of the pitchers’ duel when Makayla Berry was hit on the elbow on a 2-2 count, plating Savannah Watkins.

Morse was saddled with the tough luck loss, allowing one run on one hit, with three walks and four strikeouts in six innings of work. Kaitlyn Rhea went 2-for-3 to pace the West Brunswick offense. Savannah Branch and Izzy Smeltzre each added a hit for the Trojans, who dropped to 5-4 in league play and 10-7 on the year.

“I would have liked us to swing the bats more instead of looking at pitches, but West Brunswick’s pitcher did a great job,” Fisk added.

Laney flashed some leather at multiple positions throughout the ballgame. Ana Williams made a diving catch in right field for the final out in the fifth, while Carleigh Wildeboer tracked down a deep fly ball off the bat of McKenzie Benton for the first out in the seventh.

Freshman Tristen Horrell was also on her toes at first base. She threw out the potential tying run at the plate in the final frame after the Trojans tried to push the envelope on the base paths as Princess Jenkins applied the tag. Horrell also snagged a sharp line drive to the right side with a runner in scoring position to record the 21st and final out.

Myah Morse. Photo courtesy- Rodney Williams.
Myah Morse. Photo courtesy- Rodney Williams.

“We played as a team tonight and everyone contributed,” said Cruse. “We’re finding chemistry as a team and this is where you want to be at this point in the season. We just need to keep practicing hard, giving 110 percent.”

Coming off an 11-10 setback on April 2, Laney has outscored opponents 46-17 during the current winning streak, with wins over first-place Topsail, Hoggard and now West Brunswick.

Box score                      R  H  E

West    000  000  0         0   4   1

Laney  000  100  X        1   1   1

WP: Paige Cruse      (7IP, 0R, 3H, 1BB, 3K)

LP: Myah Morse     (6IP, 1R, 1ER, 3BB, 4K)


Topsail 17     New Hanover 3

 Following a hard fought 5-3 setback to one of the top teams in the region, the Topsail softball team responded in a big way as the Pirates cruised to a 17-3 victory against New Hanover in Hampstead on Tuesday.

Appalachian State commit Keri White launched a two-run round tripper, while Hayley Grizzle went 1-for-4 with 3 RBI’s and two runs scored. Topsail used four different pitchers in the result. Alyssa Randall struck out two in two scoreless innings of relief. Victoria Elder also struck out the side in the first.

The Pirates wasted no time to get on the board, plating six runs in their first at-bat. After New Hanover cut the deficit to 6-3, Topsail rallied for 11 runs in the fourth to close out the win.

With the result, the Pirates moved to 9-1 in first-place among Mideastern Conference schools. They also ran their overall record to 17-3 this spring.

NHHS  030 00    –   3 4 0

Topsail 600 11X  –  17 10 1

Hoggard 10   South Brunswick 0

 Hoggard was able to score runs in a number of different ways on Tuesday night, using a well-balanced attacked up and down the lineup in a 10-0 win against South Brunswick.

Aleah Thompson. Photo Courtesy- Rodney Williams.
Aleah Thompson. Photo Courtesy- Rodney Williams.

Aleah Thompson and Brooke Benton hit back to back triples in the second, while Mallory Brooks laced a double as the Vikings plated two runs to grab an early 2-0 lead. The run support was more than enough for Hoggard hurler Morgan Mathis, who delivered a complete game shutout.

Mathis wiggled out of trouble in the third with two Cougars left stranded, while Thompson and Nia Green drove in runs on a pair of sacrifice flies in the bottom of the inning to go in front by four.

Hoggard tacked on another insurance run an inning later to secure the result. Mathis helped her own cause with an RBI single. With the bases loaded in the sixth, Benton smacked her second double of the game, grabbing three runs batted in.

S. Brunswick 000 000 –  0

Hoggard          022   124  – 10