GREENSBORO – In the opening game of the 3A state championship softball series Saturday morning, Central Cabarrus’ scoring opportunities occurred at the most inopportune times.
As a result, the Vikings (26-5) never solved the mastery of Eastern Alamance (24-2) pitcher Kenna Raye Dark and fell a game behind in the best-of-three series, losing 3-0.
Central Cabarrus produced only five baserunners but had players in scoring position in two different innings: the bottom of the second and fifth. In those frames, and in one of the other two innings in which they had runners on base, the Vikings did so after two outs were recorded.
“Obviously, (Dark) is really good,” said Central Cabarrus coach Charlie Blackwelder. “We put some balls in play, but we just never could find a hole for them. We knew she was going to be tough to hit.”
After the first two hitters struck out in the second inning, Central right fielder Lexi Butcher beat out a perfectly placed bunt toward third base. Shortstop Baily Ruble ripped a grounder toward the Eastern Alamance third baseman, who mishandled it and allowed it to roll into left field.
The Vikings had runners on second and third but, Dark whiffed the final hitter – one of her 10 strikeouts - to stop the rally.
Catcher Christina Brendle pulled a sharp groundball to right field for a base hit in the fourth, but there were two outs. It was the Vikings’ final hit of the game, though Riley Tucker reached on an error with two outs in the sixth and Butcher walked in the seventh.
Brantleigh Parrott, Central’s freshman pitching counterpart to Dark, allowed six hits in seven innings and struck out nine. Two hits came in the fourth inning when Eastern Alamance opened a 1-0 lead and two more hits led to two additional runs in the following frame.
Eastern Alamance 000 120 0 -- 3 6 2
Central Cabarrus 000 000 0 -- 0 2 0
Eastern Alamance hits – Madelyn Lawson, Haley Batista, Makiya Graves 2, Haleigh Palmer 2
Eastern Alamance RBIs – Madelyn Lawson, Batista, Palmer
Central Cabarrus hits – Lexi Butcher, Christina Brendle
WP: Kenna Raye Dark (7 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 10 K)
LP: Brantleigh Parrott (7IP, 3 R, 3 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 9 K)