Lady Knights win playoff opener, 3-1

W. Curt Vincent -

DUBLIN — Sophia Singletary scattered three hits and West Bladen made a pair of first-inning runs stand up Wednesday, handing Franklinton a 3-1 loss in the first round of the state’s Class 2-A East playoffs.

The win improves the Lady Knights to 15-8 and moves them into the second round against the winner of the Midway versus North Johnston game, which would be played either Friday or Saturday — either home against Midway or at North Johnston.

With two outs in the bottom of the first, Carley Dawson hammered a long double off the fence in left-center and a passed ball moved her to third. Alanna Ludlum walked and promptly stole second base just ahead of Laikyn Pait’s two-run double to the gap in left-center for a 2-0 lead.

Neither team threatened over the next two innings but, in the top of the fourth, the Lady Red Rams got their lead-off hitter on with a single.A groundout moved her to second and she stole third. But Singletary bore down, getting a weak pop-up back to the circle and then struck out the next hitter.

In the bottom of the fifth, West Bladen tacked on an insurance run when Kassidy Anderson led off with a single up the middle and a passed ball moved her to second. After an out, Dawson singled and an error on the throw put runners at second and third. Ludlum followed with a sacrifice fly to drive in Anderson and give the Lady Knights a 3-0 lead.

After a scoreless sixth inning, Franklinton mounted a seventh-inning threat. An errant throw on a grounder went into right field and allowed the lead-off hitter to reach third base. Singletary fanned the next hitter, but a fly ball to left was corralled after a long run to the line by Jenna Dove, who fired home and beat the tagging runner for what appeared to be the game’s final out.

But the umpire claimed the ball came out of Pait’s glove and ruled the runner safe.

“It was in my glove,” Pait said after the game. “She was out.”

Singletary got the next hitter to ground out to end the game.

“I think we played outstanding — good defense and good pitching,” said West Bladen coach Joey Autry. “Sophia battled all night.

“We knew we were in for a tough game,”he added.”They are a good team with an above-average pitcher. We couldn’t come up with the big hit when we needed it after the first inning, but we’re going to be seeing better pitching now.”

Dawson led the Lady Knights at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a double. Pait was 1-for-3 with a double and two RBI and Dove was 1-for-3 with a stolen base. Ludlum had an RBI and stolen base and Anderson was 1-for-3 with a stolen base.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.

W. Curt Vincent

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