Sitting just two wins away from clinching a spot in this year’s state championship, three local ball clubs are ready to compete in a best-of-three eastern regional series to decide whether they can keep their title hopes alive.
In the 4A bracket, the Hoggard baseball team has been underestimated pretty much all season. After clawing their way to a second-place finish in the split 3A/4A Mideastern Conference with a 9-3 mark in the division, the Vikings used a favorable seed in the tournament to put themselves in position to make a postseason run.
No. 3 Hoggard has home field advantage in their series against No. 4 Green Hope. The Vikings last won a state title in 1972.
Hoggard has won 10 straight games to improve their overall record to 22-4 on the spring. Game one probable starter is Rob Wilkerson. The junior is 8-0 on the mound, with a 1.44 ERA. He’s picked up a pair of wins during the playoffs, while senior shortstop Brad Pennington is hitting a team-high .470 this season.
While the Topsail softball team breezed through the regular season to claim the Mideastern Conference Championship and held home field into the playoffs, the Pirates baseball team took a different path to get to the same spot.
Thanks to a formidable schedule early in the spring and a strong conference slate, the Topsail ball club battled through the ups and downs this spring and hit their stride at the most opportune time. Coming off one of its most lopsided victories in a 7-0 shutout against Orange High School, the Pirates host Corinth Holders for game one of the 3A East Regional Series at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
At 25-3 overall, the Lady Pirates will be on the road for the first time this postseason as No. 3 Topsail travels to top-seeded C.B. Aycock (27-1) for game one of the 3A East Regional Series. Game two will be played in Hampstead, while game three – if necessary – will be back at C.B. Aycock.
A series win by both Topsail squads would sweep the 3A eastern bracket and put them into the state finals. The baseball team is looking for its second state championship after clinching its first in 2014. The Topsail softball team is still in search of their first-ever championship in program history.
Payton Rice will go in game one for Topsail baseball. The righty has been the go-to guy atop the Pirates’ rotation this season. In 10 starts, Rice has a 9-1 record and 1.17 earned run average. Sam Hall leads the team with a .393 batting average, while Chase Riker is hitting .367.
East Regional Series
4A baseball: No. 3 Hoggard (21-4) at No. 4 Green Hope (23-5)
Game 1: at 6p.m. on Tuesday, May 24: Game 2: on Thursday, May 26 at Green Hope; Game 3 *if necessary, at Hoggard, TBA
3A baseball: No. 19 Corinth Holders (19-7) vs. No 17 Topsail (19-9)
Game 1: at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 24 at Topsail; Game 2: on Friday, May 27 at Corinth Holders; Game 3: *if necessary, 3p.m. at Topsail on Saturday, May 28
2A softball: No. 3 Topsail (25-3) vs. No. 1 C.B. Aycock (27-1)
Game 1: on Tuesday, May 24 at C.B. Aycock; Game 2: on Wednesday, May 25 at Topsail; Game 3 *if necessary, on Thursday, May 26 at C.B. Aycock