Mideastern Conference Tournament Softball Championship
No. 1 Topsail 2 No. 3 Hoggard 0
A pair of 20-win clubs faced off for the Mideastern Conference Tournament Championship on Friday. After clinching the top spot in the division during the regular season, Topsail defeated Hoggard for the third time this spring following a 2-0 victory in Hampstead.
The Pirates used timely hitting and a big effort from Victoria Elder on the stripe to improve to 21-3 overall.
“Everyone’s on the same page and that’s where we want to be heading into the playoffs,” said Topsail Coach Jay Abston. “That’s everyone on the field and surrounding the Topsail softball program. When everyone is focused on one goal you can go places. We reached another one of those goals tonight.”
Elder tossed a complete game shutout, allowing just two hits in the ball game, with zero walks. The junior fireballer retired the side in order in five of seven innings pitched, while also helping her cause at the plate to start the decisive frame.
Hoggard pitcher Morgan Mathis navigated through the Topsail lineup through five strong frames until Elder lined a leadoff double to the centerfield wall, sliding in just ahead of the throw from Bree Anderson. Hayley Grizzle dropped in an RBI single to right to break the scoreless game and also scored Topsail’s second run to give Elder the necessary breathing room to finish off the shutout.
“I’m really confident in our defense and that helps me throw strikes and get ahead of hitters,” said Elder. “I was really pumped after getting that hit and knew we had the momentum to score the run we needed.”
Any coach will tell you the most important out after putting runs on the board is the first out and Topsail used a nice play by Hunter Bizzell to start the seventh. A slow roller off the bat of Mathis was bare-handed by the junior shortstop for the put out at first, which was followed by a line drive double the other way by Aleah Thompson. After a fly out to Maddy Laster for the second out of the inning, Elder closed the contest in dominating fashion with her eighth strikeout of the game.
“The communication between Hunter [Bizzell] and Keri [White] on that play was really important,” Abston added. “It gives Victoria [Elder] some confidence and the defense was great tonight, but getting the first one was big and that means the next hitter who got on didn’t matter as much with a two-run lead.”
Sophomore Alyssa Randall went 2-for-3 in the two slot for Topsail, while Bizzell reached base twice atop the lineup.
Mathis was saddled with the loss, giving up two runs on six hits. The junior struck out the side in the fourth and fanned five in the game.
Hoggard had won 10 in a row before the setback, dropping to 20-7 overall. The Vikings learn their seed for the upcoming 4A state tournament on Monday, May 9.
Topsail looks to follow up an appearance in last year’s 3A East Regional when they take the field for the start of the 3A state playoffs next week.
“We really need to keep our confidence up,” Elder said. “We are all family on this team and that’s helped us be successful to this point. We still need to practice as hard as we have been and I think if we do that and stay focused, we will continue to do well.”
Box score R H E
Hoggard 000 000 0 0 2 2
Topsail 000 002 X 2 6 0
WP: Victoria Elder LP: Morgan Mathis