The North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) released baseball, softball and soccer brackets for the upcoming state playoffs on Monday. First-round action gets underway this week with a number of local teams looking to make a run through the tournament within their respective classification.
Hoggard and West Brunswick earned favorable seeds in their particular playoff bracket. While each team will take a one game at a time approach, the Vikings and Trojans could see a heavy home schedule ahead as long as they take care of business.
West Brunswick earned a two-seed in the 3A tournament thanks to a 20-plus win season as Mideastern Conference Champions. Jonathan Carlyle has been the ace of the staff this spring, but the Trojans need the rest of the rotation to step up. Kevin Powers and Dylan Jefferies have also been solid on the mound and their work over the next week will play a big role in the ball club’s success.
After winning 19 games in a row, the Trojans dropped two of their last three to close the regular season. A senior-laden team should help West Brunswick bounce back, with Hunter Ashburn behind the plate, Tristan Lewis at shortstop and Tyler Stanley in center field. Classmates Zach Johnson and Austin Turner will also need to pace the middle of the order as the run production over the last three games has slowed.
Hoggard has flown under the radar for much of the spring, but the Vikings have won six straight heading into the 4A tournament. Shortstop Brad Pennington has made a strong argument as a Mideastern Conference Player of the Year candidate, while Rob Wilkerson looks to build off a 6-0 record on the mound during the regular season. Hoggard needs its pitching staff to equal the team’s biggest strength, which has been a solid batting order from top to bottom.
Click here for the NCHSAA baseball brackets.
No. 3 Hoggard (18-4) vs. No. 30 Jordan (12-10)
No. 23 New Hanover (14-7) at No. 10 Millbrook (15-7)
No. 2 West Brunswick (20-2) vs. No. 31 Webb (12-10) at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 10.
No. 17 Topsail (15-7) at No. 16 Terry Sanford (16-6) at 6p.m. on Wednesday, May 11.
No. 29 South Brunswick (12-9) at No. 4 C.B. Aycock (16-4)
No. 11 North Brunswick (13-9) vs. No. 22 Barlett-Yancey (9-12) at 6p.m. on Wednesday, May 11.
Coming off last week’s 2-0 victory against Hoggard, the Topsail softball team has won five in a row leading into the 3A state tournament as the Pirates look to follow up last year’s run with a return trip to the East Regional.
Victoria Elder has dominated in the circle all season and put the finishing touches on an outstanding regular season with a two-hit shutout last week, guiding Topsail to a Mideastern Conference Tournament Championship. The junior is 10-2 on the stripe, with 145 strikeouts in 114 innings pitched.
The Pirates’ balanced attack at the plate has sophomore Alyssa Randall hitting an astronomical .500 this season. Three others are batting over .400, including Appalachian State commit Keri White (.461). Hunter Bizzell also provides a solid glove at shortstop, with a .467 average as the Topsail lead off hitter.
Laney and Hoggard both open the 4A playoffs at home, but the two Wilmington programs need to get the bats going to coincide with their solid pitching and defense to make a run in the tournament. Morgan Mathis has anchored the Vikings staff all season, while the Bucs have been steady in the field with a solid middle infield led by shortstop Kirstie Langley.
Click here for the NCHSAA softball playoff brackets.
4A softball bracket
No. 7 Laney (15-6) vs. No. 26 New Bern (12-9) at 6p.m. on Tuesday, May 10.
No. 14 Hoggard (18-4) vs. No. 19 Holly Spring (13-7) at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 10.
3A softball bracket
No. 3 Topsail (19-3) vs. No. 30 Chapel Hill (8-10) at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11.
No. 23 West Brunswick (13-9) at No.10 Swansboro (17-5) at 6p.m. on Tuesday, May 10.
2A softball bracket
No. 16 North Brunswick (11-9) vs. No. 17 Beddingfield (17-3) at 6p.m. on Wednesday, May 11.
Coming off a stellar 16-1-3 regular season, Laney earned the highest seed of any local soccer program as the Bucs came away with the top spot inside the Mideastern Conference. Outscoring opponents 73-15 this spring, Laney brings plenty of experience and college-level talent to the pitch. The Bucs should get a couple of home games thanks to a No. 5 seed and host No. 28 Holly Springs in the first round of the 4A playoffs.
Led by UNCW commit Baley Edwards in the midfield, Laney has multiple threats in the attacking third. Three different players have double digit goal totals this season, including sophomore Haley Shand. She’s tallied a team-high 20 times, while Edwards and Anna Porcelli both have 15 scores or more.
Hoggard is always a viable threat to make a run in the tournament. The Vikings are loaded once again this spring, coming off a 15-1-6 overall mark. Midfielder Emma Haywood looks to be getting back to full fitness after suffering an injury during the midseason. With Hannah Wagner in goal and a backline that has surrendered just eight goals all year, Hoggard has a tougher road ahead, but the Vikings are poised to take the route less traveled to the later rounds of the playoffs.
Click here for the complete NCHSAA soccer playoff bracket.
4A soccer bracket
No. 5 Laney (16-1-3) vs. No. 28 Holly Spring (9-8-4) at 6p.m. on Wednesday, May 11.
No. 11 Hoggard (15-1-6) vs. No. 22 Sanderson (13-6-3)
No. 27 Ashley (9-7-1) at No. 6 Green Hope (15-1-3) at 6p.m. on Wednesday, May 11.
No. 29 New Hanover (10-9-3) at No. 4 Leesville Road (18-1-2)
3A soccer bracket
No. 8 South Brunswick (5-10) vs. No. 25 Eastern Alamance (9-7-3) at 6p.m. on Wednesday, May 11.
No. 30 Topsail (8-11-3) at No. 3 Corinth Holders (17-3-1) at 6p.m. on Tuesday, May 10.