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Lady Bruins knock off Pirates, reach fourth round

Camden 5 Perquimans 1

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Camden's Kamryn Nash (right) slides into third base, while Perquimans' Megan Denson (left) covers the base during the NCHSAA Class 1A state playoff softball game, Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at the Camden softball field near Camden Community Park.

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By David Gough
Sports Writer

Thursday, May 16, 2019

CAMDEN — Camden and Perquimans softball, already familiar with each other as Albemarle Athletic Conference foes, have gotten to know each other especially well this season.

On Tuesday night, the teams met for the fourth and most consequential time in 2019 for a 1A NCHSAA third round playoff game.

The end result was the same as the previous three as the No. 1 seed Lady Bruins prevailed once again in the rivalry match, defeating No. 9 Perquimans 5-1.

“It’s tough when you see the same team four times in a season especially when they’re a good team like they are, but we did what we needed to do and got it done,” Camden coach Charles Nash said

The Lady Bruins (23-1) put their best foot forward early offensively with each of their five runs coming in the first three innings of the game.

Three of those runs came across home plate in the first inning.

After Kamryn Nash and Briana Bratton worked walks against Perquimans’ Faith Christian to begin the bottom of the first, Carleigh Simmons blooped a hit just fair down the right field line.

The hit scored both Nash and Bratton for a 2-0 lead before the first out of the inning. Simmons then scored the third run three batters later on a Skylar Hyatt double to left field.

Perquimans (21-6) coach Ricky Stallings decided to put in Megan Denson as the pitcher after Hyatt’s double. Christian recorded one out, walked three and allowed two hits.

All nine batters came to the plate for the Lady Bruins in their opening inning. Denson worked out of a bases loaded jam by getting retiring Kaiyah Dooley and Sam Smith consecutively.

“We needed to start out on top of things and we didn’t,” Stallings said. “Walks are hard to defend once they’re on base. Faith was off just a little bit and it is what is.”

Camden added its fourth run in the game in the second as Nash reached base via error and found herself at third base. Bratton followed that with a RBI single down the left field line.

To open the third inning, Hyatt was hit by a pitch and eventually scored on a two-out double that was slapped down the left field line by Nash for a 5-0 lead.

Denson prevented more runs from scoring that inning by getting Bratton to ground out to second with runners in scoring position. The lone senior Lady Pirate was able to keep Camden from scoring again for the rest of the game.

“We maybe could’ve had a bigger advantage and a lot less stress (later on),” coach Nash said, of leaving runners in scoring position.

The Lady Bruins’ five early runs were more than enough though to support pitcher Hailey Bunting, who went all seven innings for the win.

Bunting struck out nine Perquimans batters, allowed four hits, walked two and worked around a few errors throughout the game.

Kaitlyn Votava worked the first walk against Bunting to lead off the fifth inning and eventually scored on Denson’s fly ball to left field for their only run of the game.

Perquimans had more chances later but couldn’t cash in.

After McKayle Knapp led the sixth inning off with a walk, Abby Todd singled to right-center field.

Knapp, trying to reach third base on the play, was then gunned down by Camden center fielder Bratton, who got the ball on one hop and fired to third for the first out of the inning.

Todd moved to second on the play and later reached third, but Bunting retired Christian and Maci Denson consecutively to end the inning.

“If we have runners on second and third there, then possibly something happens,” Stallings said. “You have to take chances in those spots.”

Perquimans put together a last-ditch effort in the seventh as well as they still trailed by four runs. Summer Christian led the inning off with a single and with two outs, Megan Denson reached base via error.

Before Denson reached base, she fouled the ball down the right field line just out of reach for right fielder Smith. Smith and first baseman Carleigh Simmons collided on the play.

According to coach Nash, Smith got the worst of it as she was down for a few minutes and may have been concussed.

Bunting ended any threat from Perquimans by getting Kaileigh Nixon to ground out to shortstop for the final out of the game.

Camden now hosts No. 12 Vance Charter School in the fourth round of the playoffs.

“Glad to come out on top and that we get to see Friday now,” coach Nash said.

Perquimans’ season comes to an end, but it’ll return a large core of players next season with the exception of Megan Denson.

“Not many teams win 20 or more games a year, that’s a good season,” Stallings said. “Graduating one senior, so hopefully we’ll be back next year.”

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