FAIRMONT —West Bladen’s Lady Knights, a perennial Class 2-A playoff team the past few seasons and two-time defending champion in the Robeson County Slugfest, earned a unanimous No. 1 seeding from coaches for the upcoming tournament. It’s the second straight year the Lady Knights have secured the No. 1 seeding.
The baseball and softball Slugfest will be played in Red Springs starting on Saturday, April 19.
“It’s really an honor to get a unanimous No. 1 seed from the other coaches,” said West Bladen coach Pam Stephens. “I’m sure most of that is based on the fact that we’ve won it the past two years, but we’ll still have to play well if we hope to repeat.”
The Lady Knights are off to an 11-2 mark this season, with the two losses coming in Four County Conference play — 4-2 to Wallace-Rose Hill on the road and a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Pender at home. But West Bladen is 4-0 against Robeson County teams this season, with two wins against both Purnell Swett and St. Pauls.
Purnell Swett will be the No. 2 seed, which means West Bladen could meet the Lady Rams in the championship game for the fourth straight year if both can get there.
“We’ve beat them (twice), but they play in a tough conference and aren’t a pushover,” Stephens said.
As of Wednesday, only one other team in the field could boast of a winning record. Following West Bladen’s 11-2 mark was Fairmont at 6-4, while Purnell Swett and Red Springs were each 5-7, South Robeson 5-8, Lumberton 3-9, Terry Sanford 1-10 and St. Pauls 1-12.
The rest of the field’s seeding has Lumberton as the No. 3 seed, newcomer Terry Sanford at No. 4, South Robeson at No. 5, Fairmont at No. 6, host Red Springs at No. 7 and St. Pauls — West Bladen’s first-round opponent in the Slugfest — is seeded No. 8.
Fairmont received the No. 1 seed for the baseball tournament, edging out second-seeded Purnell Swett and third-seeded Lumberton. West Bladen’s Knights were given a No. 4 seeding.
“I’m happy with our seeding,” said West Bladen coach Kim Cain. “Especially since we don’t play until 7 p.m. that Saturday, and we have prom the night before.”
As the top seed, Fairmont will play No. 8 South Robeson in the first round and No. 4 West Bladen will face No. 5 Red Springs. The bottom half will see No. 2 Purnell Swett take on No. 7 St. Pauls, while three-time defending champion and No. 3 Lumberton will open against No. 6 Freedom Christian.
Fairmont is the class of the field, at least as far as records are concerned. As of Wednesday, the Golden Tournadoes are 13-1 overall and sit atop the Three Rivers Conference with an 8-0 mark.
But there are four other teams with winning records thus far: Purnell Swett is 9-3, Lumberton is 9-5, Freedom Christian is 6-3 and Red Springs sits at 6-5.
South Robeson and West Bladen are both even at 6-6 this season, while St. Pauls is 2-11.
“Fairmont and Purnell Swett are loaded, and you can’t ever count Lumberton out,” Cain said. “So the competition will be very good.”