Lady Knights to face North Johnston on Friday

DUBLIN — West Bladen softball coach Joey Autry has four concerns as his Lady Knights prepare to travel to Kenley on Friday for a second-round game against North Johnston in the state’s Class 2-A playoffs at 7 p.m.

The first, of course, is the Lady Panthers, who are 16-7 and tied for first place in the Eastern Plains Conference at 8-2. North Johnston boasts two solid pitchers in Emma Turner and Amberlynn Pearce, along with catcher Jada Santiago, who is hitting .435 with five home runs and 24 RBI.

The second is his own team’s performance at the plate. Up until the past three games, the lady Knights were hitting the cover off the ball — only to see that cool over West Bladen’s last two regular-season games (a 3-0 win over East Bladen and an 8-0 loss to Midway) and Wednesday’s 3-1 win over Franklinton in the first round. Combined, the lady Knights scored six runs and had just 17 hits in the three games.

The third is catcher Alanna Ludlum’s hamstring. The junior catcher tweaked it early in Wednesday’s game but gutted it out and stayed in the game. Having the experienced backstop and No. 4 hitter in the lineup is paramount to West Bladen’s success.

And finally, there is Mother Nature. With rain and thunderstorms predicted all day, it’s possible Autry and Ludlum are both rooting for a postponement of Friday’s game until Saturday.

West Bladen, 15-8, finished second in the Four County Conference behind Heidi Trask with an 11-3 mark.
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