A beautiful spring evening and a lively crowd at Jordan-Matthews High School on Saturday provided the perfect setting for the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A softball playoffs.
It would take a perfect play, then, to win, and Jordan-Matthews got it with a single from sophomore LeeAnn Lily that scored junior Marshall Phillips and gave the Jets a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Maybe it wasn’t the perfect hit, but it was perfectly placed between short and second, dribbling into center field. Phillips, standing at second after starting the inning with a hit, rounded the bases and scored standing up. Her run sent Jordan-Matthews, the No. 6 seed in the East Region, to the third round of the state playoffs..
The No. 12 seeded Beddingfield Bruins, who finish the 2017 season with a 16-5 record, could only shake their heads after the close loss.
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“Like I told the girls, ‘Sometimes, coaches don’t have all the answers,’” coach Jeremy Howard said. “Some may try to act like they do, but I told them I didn’t really know how to explain this one, other than it just wasn’t meant to be. They hit a couple bleeders that found holes, and the final was 2-1.”
The Bruins had their chances. They started the game by scoring their leadoff hitter, freshman Anna Gardner. But they ended up leaving two stranded that inning, and two more in the fourth as well.
“Anytime you play a team as talented as they are, you try to give yourself a cushion,” Howard said. “We were sitting on one run, which is better than chasing one, but we were only sitting on one run and, in hindsight, you realize it could have been about three or five and we didn’t take advantage of some opportunities.”
Jordan-Matthews was led at the plate by Lily, who finished 2-for-3 with the game-winning RBI. Sophomore Emery Moore also had an RBI and went 2-3 with a double. On the mound, Phillips got the win after pitching seven innings and striking out five.
The Jets will host Providence Grove, the No. 15 seed in the East, Tuesday in the third round after they beat No. 2 seed East Duplin 7-0.
These two teams have some mutual history. On March 8 in Franklinville, Providence Grove beat the Jets 7-4. Jordan-Matthews has revenge on their mind heading into Tuesday’s matchup.
“We are ready to get them back,” coach Chelsea Brewer said. “They beat us and we are ready to come back for them.”
In Jordan-Matthews’ last 13 games, the team has a perfect record — 13-0. The Jets haven’t lost since March 29 against Chatham Central.
Even with a tough opponent coming to town Tuesday, and even as the pressure rises with each round of the playoffs, Jordan-Matthews has no intention of saying goodbye to their streak of perfection anytime soon.