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East wins easily in 2-A softball playoffs

THOMASVILLE | East Davidson’s softball team, co-champions of the Central Carolina Conference, entered the postseason on a roll, riding a five-game winning streak in which they outscored their opponents 67-14.

After capturing the CCC tournament and the league’s No.1 seed, the Golden Eagles were full of confidence as they prepared to host T.W. (High Point) Andrews to open the 2-A state playoffs Friday night. That confidence was on full display as East jumped out to a 5-0 first-inning lead before cruising to a 15-0 win.

Third baseman Morgan Gallimore drove in four runs with a double, triple and a walk to lead East past the Red Raiders, the No. 4 seed from the PAC-6.

Freshman Brooke Walser took the victory in the circle for the Golden Eagles with a two-hit shutout in a game shortened to three innings due to the mercy rule.

Walser retired Andrews in order in the first inning, setting up East shortstop Natalie Naturile who led off the bottom of the stanza with a liner to left field. After Brooklyn Hopkins drew a walk, Gallimore laced a 1-0 pitch down the left field line to clear the bases and give the Eagles a 2-0 lead.

Gallimore later stole third and scored on a passed ball. Bailey Jones then walked and stole second with Morgan Key at the plate and then scored on Key’s fielder’s choice grounder.

With one out, Bayley Plummer lined a double off the fence in left-center and advanced to third on an errant relay throw. Plummer then scored on a wild pitch to finish off the five-run first inning — and give East what would prove to be an insurmountable lead.

The five runs proved more than enough for Walser, who struck out four while facing the minimum number of batters in picking up the win for East. After surrendering a leadoff single to Jayla Boyd in the second, Walser struck out Alexia Guidry for the first out.

The Golden Eagle pitcher then got Chelsea Nwanna to ground one back to the mound and threw out Boyd at second for the fielder’s choice. Naturile tried to turn the double play but her throw sailed high at first and ricocheted perfectly to Walser who gunned down Nwanna at second.

In the second inning East used five hits, five walks, five wild pitches and two hit batters to plate nine runs, extending their lead to 14-0. Plummer highlighted the scoring binge by crushing a first pitch offering to deep center field for a two-run homer.

With two outs in the third inning, Andrews pitcher Jessika Williams lined a single to right field. Haley Ray fielded the ball and overthrew first base in an attempt to throw out Williams. But Plummer, backing up first, picked up the ball and threw Williams out at second, ending the Raiders’ night at the plate.

Needing one run to close out the mercy rule game, Plummer led off the bottom of the third with a walk and stole second base. Ray then lined a 1-1 pitch past the outstretched glove of Andrews third baseman Hannah Wade to score Plummer and end the rout.

East Davidson coach Amanda Akins viewed the blowout win as a way to continue to improve and work on her team’s discipline and fundamentals. “We really wanted to work hard on being fundamental at the plate and the field. We still need to be cleaner in the field. When we face a pitcher that’s not what we usually see, we preach being patient, waiting on the ball and making sure we get a strike to swing at,” Akins said.

East, 17-7, advances to the second round Tuesday where they will face West Stanly (21-4), the No.2 seed from the Rocky River conference.

Notes: East collected nine hits, seven walks and two hit batsmen on the night. Every Eagle hitter scored at least one run. Hopkins, Gallimore, Jones and Plummer each reached base three times.