Colette Cassedy has had strong hitters come and go during her time as head coach of the Evans High School softball program. But rarely has she coached a team that collectively hit as well as this year’s Knights.
“It’s probably been one of the better hitting teams I’ve ever coached,” Cassedy said. “I’m not saying I didn’t have other good hitters ever, but just all together, 1-9, this is probably one of my better-hitting teams.”
Even this hot-hitting squad could not break through against Ashley Clifton on Wednesday afternoon.
The Northgate pitching ace had a pair of strong performances, including a no-hitter, helping the visiting Vikings to wins of 5-0 and 8-0 over Evans in the second round of the Class AAAA state playoffs.
“We faced a good pitcher,” Cassedy said. “I think the second game, we were able to see her better. … We were hitting it, but happened to be hitting it at them.”
On a chilly afternoon, the Vikings (22-6) advanced to the Elite Eight for the second consecutive year. They took out the Knights (24-11) in the same round at the same venue last season.
After being held hitless in the opening game, Evans got a hit in the first inning of Game 2 by Rebecca Olsen.
The senior’s single put runners at second and third, but the Knights couldn’t plate a run.
In the second inning, Lexi Dodgen doubled and got to third on Elyssa Melton’s sacrifice bunt.
Again, Clifton got out of the jam. The Georgia Tech recruit settled down after that and the Northgate offense kicked in gear.
Northgate notched a first-inning run against Game 2 starter Brooke Sarver before breaking the game open in the third.
Ansley Smith, a University of Kentucky recruit who homered twice in Game 1, singled home a run before Andie Martin hit a long home run over the left-center field fence for a 5-0 lead.
Jaynie Proctor added an RBI single.
Needing two fifth-inning runs to end the game by run rule, Northgate got a one-out double from Sierra Wingo.
Proctor followed with an RBI single, then scored from second on Brenna Skalski’s bunt single that made it through the infield.
For the past three years, Greenbrier has been eliminated from the state playoffs by the eventual champion.
After falling 9-0 in six innings and then 8-0 to No. 1-ranked Union Grove on Thursday evening, Wolfpack head coach Garrett Black believes the Wolverines could keep the trend going for a fourth year.
“They’re pretty solid,” Black said Thursday night after Greenbrier bowed out in the second round.