After going a perfect 14-0 during the regular season, the Piedmont softball team saw its season come to an end Wednesday against West Rowan, 6-0, in the second round of the 3A state softball tournament.
The loss marked the only time this season the Panthers (15-1) were shut out in a game. Before Wednesday, Piedmont averaged a remarkable 8.8 runs per game while only allowing 27 total through 16 games in 2021.
The loss was the first of the season in the circle for junior pitcher Jillian Thomas — a Wingate commit who finished the 2021 spring season 13-1 on the mound with a 1.61 ERA and 162 strikeouts in just 87 innings pitched. Thomas tossed a complete-game shutout on five separate occasions in 2021.
Thomas will be the top returner for Piedmont next season, but the Panthers will also bring back a handful of other contributors, including junior Scarlett Little (.500 average, 22 RBI) and sophomores Kloie Green (.333, 10 RBI) and Skye Harrington (.280, 14 RBI). Piedmont now has 10 straight seasons above .500 under head coach Jason Phelix.
The other Southern Carolina Conference team to make the softball playoffs was Marvin Ridge, which was defeated by Jesse Carson, 5-3, in the first round on Monday. Jesse Carson used a three-run first inning to jump ahead of the Mavericks (12-3) at the outset Monday.
Marvin Ridge scored its three runs on RBI singles by juniors Camryn Pfister and Mauri Murray and freshman Anna McGowan. McGowan also pitched five innings in the circle, allowing nine hits and five earned runs while walking two batters.
Like Piedmont, Marvin Ridge will return several key contributors when it returns to action next spring. Among those returning are McGowan (.537 average, 14 RBI; 6-2 W-L, 3.26 ERA), junior Katriel Williams (.511, 14 RBI), Murray (.469, 21 RBI) and sophomore Riya Patel (.316, 17 RBI).
The Porter Ridge softball team fell to Lake Norman, 7-1, on Monday in the first round of the 4A state tournament. The Pirates lost their final three games of the season after starting 2021 with an overall record of 8-2.
This offseason, the Pirates will graduate sisters Laney and Lauren Love, who hit a combined .580 with 29 hits and 21 RBI. The only other senior who played in 2021 who will graduate this offseason is senior Calyn Mincey, who hit .345 with six RBI this season.
Leading the charge for Porter Ridge offensively next season will be current freshman Natalya Salo, who hit .548 with 23 hits and a team-high 16 RBI in 2021. Salo also went 6-4 on the mound with a 3.23 ERA and 91 strikeouts across 65 innings pitched.
The final Union County team eliminated from the softball playoffs this week was Union Academy, which lost, 8-0, to Chatham Central on Tuesday night. The Cardinals finish the season 11-4 overall after going 9-3 in the PAC 7 Conference in 2021.
The 8-0 defeat at Chatham Central was Union Academy’s first shutout loss since falling to Mountain Island Charter, 11-0, back on Apr. 1. Since then, the Cardinals had outscored their opponents by an average of 16 runs per game before the loss to Chatham Central.
Luckily for Union Academy, the softball team will almost be at full strength when they return to the field in 2022. The only senior graduating this offseason is Hannah Wease, who hit .350 with 18 RBI this past season.
Among those coming back for head coach Crystal Trull’s team are freshmen Shelby Brooks (.468 average, 27 RBI) and Riley Griffin (.488, 24 RBI) and sophomores Gracie Hollingsworth (.538, 23 RBI) and Gabriela Gama (.421, 16 RBI).