BURGAW — West Bladen pitcher Nicole Wyatt twirled a two-hitter and was backed by a 14-hit attack that was highlighted by a three-run home run by Courtney Thompson, as the Lady Knights whipped Pender County 8-0 on Friday.
The win improved West Bladen to 9-3 in the Four County Conference and 18-3 overall. It also got revenge for a bitter 1- defeat to the Lady Patriots last month. More importantly, it clinches the conference’s No. 1 Class 2-A seed for West Bladen.
The Lady Knights scored the only run it would need in the top of the first when Taylor Stephens singled, went to second on a sacrifice and raced home behind Thompson’s RBI single.
In the third, West Bladen plated three runs when Morgan Sweeney and Stephens singled ahead of Thompson’s three-run homer to left-center for a 4-0 lead.
The Lady Knights’ bats kept on humming in the fourth frame, when they added another three runs. A walk and single by Sophia Singletary was followed by a two-run single by Sweeney, and Stephens stroked her third single of the game to drive in Sweeney, giving West Bladen a 7-0 lead.
After a scoreless fifth and sixth, the Lady Knights tacked on their final run in the seventh. Wyatt and Josie Ludlum singled and, moments later, Allison Thompson, Wyatt’s courtesy runner, scored on a passed ball.
“We hit two of their pitchers well, scoring four runs against each of them,” West Bladen coach Pam Stephens said. “It was good to see the girls hit the ball like that and get us some runs.”
Stephens finished 4-for-4 at the plate with a double and RBI. Thompson was 2-for-3 with the home run and four RBI, while Sweeney also went 2-for-3 and had two RBI.
In the circle, Wyatt went the distance and fanned 10 Pender County hitters.
— With the Lady Eagles clinging to a 2-1 lead with an out in the top of the seventh, visiting Heidi Trask benefited from a pair of East Bladen errors and plated four runs to escape with a 5-3 win on Friday in Elizabethtown.
The win allowed the Lady Titans to clinch the Four County Conference title and dropped East Bladen to 6-6 in the conference and 8-6 overall.
“That’s youth for you,” East Bladen coach Patty Evers said about the seventh-inning errors. “It’s part of getting over the hump and learning how to close out games.
“But we played a heckuva game against the conference champions,” she added. “We made some huge, outstanding defensive plays.”
One of those was a full-speed, lay-out catch by Lacey Suggs in centerfield that robbed at least a double; and catcher Lexi Dawson threw out two base-stealers.
“I was happy with how we hit the ball, too,” Evers said. “Hey, they beat us 17-2 the first time we played, so this was quite a turnaround. The girls are improving, and that’s all I can ask.”
Dawson and Abbey Norris each went 2-for-4 at the plate for East Bladen.
— A hit batter, wild pitch and Texas-league single in the ninth inning spelled doom for the Knights on Friday, as Pender County used softly-hit singles all night to edge West Bladen 3-2.
The loss drops West Bladen to 6-6 in the conference and 9-10 overall.
The Patriots scored single runs in the second and fifth, but West Bladen cut that deficit in half with a run in the sixth when an error and passed ball put a runner on third. John Waldrop then smashed an infield single for the RBI.
The Knights knotted the game in the top of the seventh when Parker Allen singled, Travis Bowen doubled and Owen Peavy put down a perfect suicide squeeze to score Allen and tie the game at 2-2.
After a scoreless eighth, the fateful ninth bit the Knights.
Bowen was 2-for-4 with the double and Peavy had a double and RBI.
Clay Allen hurled all nine innings for West Bladen, taking the hard-luck loss after giving up six hits, four walks and striking out nine.