NEWLAND — For the second straight year, the East Surry softball team had to hit the road and face Avery County in the second round of the NCHSAA 1A playoffs, and the Lady Cardinals once again ended the Vikings’ season in 2016.
No. 9 East Surry received dominant pitching performances from Autumn Lawson and Emily Cummings in a 11-0 shutout against No. 8 Avery County on Friday. The Cardinals led from start-to-finish and scored at least one run in five of the seven innings.
In the two second-round battles between the teams, East Surry has outscored Avery County 27-2.
“We played here last year, so we stopped in North Wilkesboro to get a drink, and I told the girls they’ve had some time with the drive to relax and cut-up a little bit, but when we pull in up here we need to be ready to play,” East Surry coach Randy Marion said.
Aside from a couple of early baserunning mistakes, East Surry (21-6) meant business right from the start. Bethany Clayton led off the game with a single and immediately stole two bases. She scored on a RBI double by Emily Cummings, and East Surry led 2-0 when Cummings crossed home plate thanks to an Avery error.
The Lady Cardinals added to their early advantage in the top of the third. With two outs and a runner on first, Autumn Lawson smoked a home run down the left-field line.
The inning’s fireworks weren’t over, and Haley Jennelle followed Lawson with a solo shot of her own for a 5-0 lead. Those were the first three of eight runs that came with two outs in Friday’s ballgame.
“Haley Jennelle had been struggling a little bit recently, but she hit the home run tonight, and any time you can get those runs with two outs, it’s going to give you a better chance at the end of the game,” Marion said.
Those two-out runs were icing on the cake for the two Cardinal pitchers. Cummings worked through the first four innings and started the game off with six consecutive strikeouts. She gave up just two hits with an electrifying fastball from the left side of the circle.
Lawson was handed the reins in the bottom of the fifth with the Cardinals holding an 8-0 lead. She brought the heat as well, pounding the inside corner to the tune of four strikeouts and only one hit in her three innings of work.
“I knew going in I wanted to use both (Lawson and Cummings) today,” Marion said. “I want them both to be fresh from here on out, but also have them ready with mound time when they do get called upon.”
“Emily threw a little harder tonight than I’ve seen the last couple of games. I know she’s been working on that the past couple weeks, and Autumn did a great job hitting her spots.”
East Surry’s lineup was efficient from top-to-bottom in support of Cummings and Lawson. Five different players had at least two hits. Clayton led the way at 3-4 with three runs and one run driven in. Brooke Bowman also had a solid day at the plate, going 2-3 with a pair of RBIs while hitting seventh in the East Surry lineup.
The Lady Cardinals were scheduled to return home for the third round of the playoffs on Tuesday thanks to an upset by No. 16 Gray Stone Day. The Lady Knights went on the road and defeated No. 1 Hiwassee Dam with a narrow 1-0 win.
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16