MT. HERMON, NC – Isley Duggins, a senior pitcher and signatory of Elon University, beat 12 batters as Southern Alamance took a home first-round win.
The Patriots defeated Cleveland 4-3 to positively add their post-season endeavors to the NC High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) 3A’s 3A playoff bracket. Southern Alamance was ranked 8th the newest HighSchoolOT Top 25 East Poll, while Cleveland followed shortly afterwards in 15th place.
The visiting Rams would score in the first round if Junior Taylor McQueen hit a one-off single in flat right midfield against Duggins. McQueen was a sophomore driving Sage Farmer, who had broadcast a triple right inside the first base line, to get into goal position.
Southern Alamance responded at the bottom of the opening frame when Duggins found the grass in the right field with an RBI bloop single to meet Greta Hessenthaler in sophomore year. Cleveland junior pitcher Zoey Jones had given up two straight walks before Duggins got promoted to bat with two outs in the first inning.
At the end of the second, the Patriots took the lead, just one behind. Junior Shelby Lapoint tore a double into midfield, then was courtesy put on the run after moving to third base. Anna Byrd, a junior catcher, dropped a successful Bunt to outbid the Pats’ second run – 2-1 SA.
Cleveland regained an advantage in the top third (3-2) when junior first baseman Iona Davis punched a split single in the middle and was able to advance to second base of the game. Farmer and McQueen – both individually – were brought home Monday night over Davis’ lonely hit.
It’s worth noting that Cleveland and Southern Alamance made quality defensive games to help out the pitchers. Sarah Prosser, a second baseman for the Rams, got dirty in the infield with dive stops for outs and even passed on an out-at-home plate. Kassidy Mills (sophomore) tossed the ball at Prosser, who turned and fired at McQueen for the applied label – during the third inning. The Patriots’ three outfield players made it difficult to wrest additional bases from the guests.
Southern Alamance scored two runs at the end of run five, which ultimately sealed victory in the first lap. The three of Hessenthaler tied the thing together by driving a stand-up double onto the warning lane in the left midfield. Hessenthaler would chase the Rams’ pitcher, Jones, out of the competition in favor of elder Ashlyn Faulkner.
The Patriots took the lead 4: 3, with Faulkner providing pitches. Hessenthaler came home to score from third base while Duggins stood in the racket’s box. SA would not give up this unique edge.
Duggins stranded Cleveland base runners on the first and second bases by ejecting mills with four pitches to complete the bottom of the seventh frame. The Patriots have won six straight games dating back to April 17, losing to North Davidson 5-4.
On Monday, Duggins walked the seven-inning distance and threw 119 pitches (88 were for strikes). The Elon recruit allowed nine hits, three runs, four walks and knocked out 12 opposing thugs. She has a total of 47 strikes in the last 28 innings.
Jones and Faulkner – the two Cleveland pitchers on round one – together threw six innings with six hits, four runs (three earned), four walks and four strikeouts.
Southern Alamance (12-3) is said to be the host Eastern Alamance on Wednesday for the second round of the NCHSAA playoffs. The Patriots have lost three of their last four games against EA based on MaxPreps.
Cleveland closes its spring 2021 season with an overall grade of 10-3. The Rams fell to South Johnston (2-1), Clayton (5-3) and Southern Alamance (4-3) in the shorter year.