Traci Bridgers - All-Area softball pitcher of the year
By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on June 11, 2011 11:03 PM
Traci Bridgers has had unparalleled success on the softball diamond at Princeton High School. Conference championships, double-digit playoff wins and a near state championship all highlight the senior's resume.
While those accomplishments are impressive, they only tell part of the story regarding Bridgers' dominance. And for the second straight year, Bridgers is the 2011 News-Argus All-Area Pitcher-of-the-Year.
"I can not even tell you how big Traci has been for our team over the last four years," said Princeton head coach Terry Braswell. "She has been a constant force for us every game and she has grown into a leader."
Following a lights-out junior season that featured 17 wins and a run to the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A state playoffs, the expectations were high for both Bridgers and the Bulldawgs heading into 2011.
The team and its star player both lived up to the hype.
Princeton began the season with a strong showing in non-conference play that included wins over Wilson Fike and Smithfield-Selma. Bridgers tossed a no-hitter in a 10-0 win over the Spartans, a game that she recalls with a wide smile.
"I have been in situations before where I have had a no-hitter or a perfect game and it is hard not to think about it," Bridgers said. "But all you can do is put it out of your mind and focus on the next pitch."
Once Carolina 1-A Conference play began, Bridgers dialed-in her signature delivery and led the Dawgs to a 9-1 mark within the league and a conference title.
Princeton seized the momentum and rolled into the state tournament as one of the favorites. It was a role that Bridgers relished as the team cruised through the first round with a 16-0 win over Northampton East. The Dawgs then followed with one-run wins over Perquimans, Southside and South Creek to reach the east regional championship at Walnut Creek.
Bridgers allowed just three runs during that stretch.
"It was really special for me to get to Walnut Creek as a senior," Bridgers said. "To finish third in the state was something that I was very proud of and I think it showed all the hard work we put in as a team."
Princeton's season came to an end at the Creek with losses to Pamlico and East Surry. The Cardinals managed just three hits off Bridgers, but pulled out a 2-1 victory.
Bridgers finished the season with a miniscule 0.663 earned run average.
After taking a few days to reflect on her high school career, Bridgers has already set her sights on the next level. Bridgers plans on attending either Louisburg Junior College or Pitt Community College to continue her softball career.
All of the rigors of college softball may seem daunting, but Bridgers is excited about getting an opportunity.
"I am looking forward to seeing the game at the next level," Bridgers said. "Both Louisburg and Pitt have good programs and it is going to be a tough decision that I will have to make this summer."