Wednesday was a tough night for South Johnston. The Trojans lost all three games in Four Oaks. The girls soccer team had one of its better performances, but fell 2-0 to Western Harnett. The softball team couldn’t quite complete the comeback in a 10-7 loss to North Johnston. And a couple of blunders cost the baseball team in a 4-3 loss in eight innings to the Panthers.
South’s a young, inexperienced soccer team this season, but they’re improving. After suffering their worst loss of the season 9-0 against Harnett Central on Tuesday, the Trojans were competitive against Western. They haven’t created a lot of chances going forward, but on Wednesday they gave the Eagles a couple of scares, especially late in the game.
“Now we’ve got to work on our finishing,” said South soccer coach David Diviak. “I think because of the way our other games have gone, we tend to get caught up in the moment when we do have chances, and we tense up and get some tunnel vision... We can’t put together a full 40-minute effort yet, let alone 80 minutes, but from what I’m seeing, the things I talked about at halftime [Tuesday], they’re trying to implement those things. They’re being coachable, which I think is a good sign, and I think we’re going to get there eventually.”
On the other side, Western got its first win of the season thanks to two goals by freshman forward Makenyia Mackey. The Eagles started off the year against tough competition, so head coach Lauren Tidwell was happy to her girls end up on the winning side.
“We’re really excited,” Tidwell said. “We worked together as a team today. The girls passed well, they set up the attack and took a lot more shots today than they’ve taken all year, so hopefully this will carry forward.”
Just a couple of crooked numbers got the better of South in the softball game. North scored one run in the second inning, then exploded for five runs in the third and four runs in the sixth.
“They had a couple of big innings where they really hit the ball,” said South softball coach Ashley Ennis. “They’re a good team, and a hard lineup to get through without getting some damage. They hit it hard, and then I think we helped them a little bit on defense a couple of times.”
Ennis was disappointed with the loss, but still feels like his girls are playing well early in the season. The Trojans racked up 11 hits and were constantly putting the ball in play. Even when they were down 10-4 going into the bottom of the seventh, they managed to scratch out three runs and bring the tying run to the plate with two outs.
“We’re still getting people on base, getting hits,” Ennis said. “We’re leaving some people on base but we’re still scoring runs. I think our girls have a good energy at the plate, we’ve got a good lineup but we need them all to click at the same time and score a few more runs. But I thought we fought back well there in the end after having another bad inning. We’ve got a little bit of pride, a little bit of fight, so that’s something we can build on.”
Junior pitcher Savannah Lockamy had three hits, including a double and an RBI, and freshman second baseman Kennedy Byrd had two doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored to lead the Trojans (3-1). Carmen Keene had two hits, including a double to go with two RBIs and a run scored. Kandis Adams had two hits, two RBIs and a run scored. Katie Mitchell and Nikki Lee each had one hit and one run scored.
In close games, one or two mistakes can make all the difference. That’s certainly how South baseball coach Aaron Parnell saw his team’s loss to North.
“It’s always tough to lose a game you think you should’ve won,” Parnell said. “I thought we played well. We did a couple of bone-headed things on the bases, we did a couple things defensively that we haven’t done all year and kind of gave away a few runs. That hurts, because those guys over there [at North] can play. We knew it was going to be a competitive game, we just made a few mistakes and it cost us.”
Clayton Blackman led South (2-2) at the plate with three hits, including a pair of doubles and two RBIs. Josh Schindler had two hits. Jacob Norris, Josh Parker,Ben Stafford and David Honeycutt each had one hit.
“Everything Clayton hit tonight was a rope,” Parnell said. “He’s just come back from basketball and hasn’t had the chance to get a lot of swings, so for him to come back and immediately hit that way, it bodes well for him the rest of the season.”
Parker started on the mound for South and gave three solid innings. Patrick Allen came in and pitched in relief, and even though he picked up the loss after surrendering the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, Parnell was pleased with the junior’s performance off the bench.
“We put Patrick Allen in, just asking for a couple innings really, and he gave us four or five strong innings,” Parnell said. “He just went out and competed. Of course I’m thrilled with the way those guys threw.”