05/21/17 — PREP SOFTBALL: Whiteville dethrones Princeton

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PREP SOFTBALL: Whiteville dethrones Princeton

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 21, 2017 1:45 AM


PRINCETON -- Every softball coach in the Three Rivers 1-A/2-A Conference is ready to see Whiteville senior Sage McLelland graduate in June.

Princeton probably feels the same way.

An East Carolina commit, McLelland smashed three home runs and collected a career-high eight RBI as the Wolfpack dethroned reigning state champ, 15-2, in their eastern 1-A semifinal-round tilt Friday evening.

"It feels good, I'm not going to lie," Whiteville head coach Olivia Scott said of the resounding road win. "It takes a team to do something like that. These girls are so close, determined."

An electric partisan blue-and-gold crowd turned silent barely 10 minutes into the contest.

During her first plate appearance, McLelland went "yard" -- a two-run, two-strike bomb that easily cleared the left-field fence. Teammate Raeganne Sholar deposited a Beth Braswell offering in nearly the same spot two batters later.

4-0 Wolfpack.

"It kind of got in the girls' heads, I think," PHS head coach Terry Braswell of the back-to-back jacks. "They didn't really recover."

McLelland delivered a three-run HR in the second and a two-run shot in the fifth. She boosted her season total to 14 and increased her RBI output to 41.

"She's a very humble young lady, too," Scott said. "She wants her teammates to to do the same things that she's doing. She pushes them to be like her. She wants them to work hard, and she works hard.

"A lot of people in our conference are ready to see her leave, but I sure am not."

Braswell -- the team's lone senior -- hadn't allowed a run in the postseason, but yielded 16 (eight earned) on 15 hits and only one walk. She sent five Wolfpack batters back to the dugout with a strikeout beside their name in the scorebook.

"We had heard a lot of good things about Beth, that she was a dominating pitcher," Scott said. "We knew that to get past her change-up, we were going to have to hit early and that's what we tried to do tonight.

"And it worked."

Princeton endured its first mercy-rule postseason loss since 2007.

The Bulldogs managed six hits -- including RBI singles by Karlyn Woodard and Hailey Woodall. Megan Bryant, Casey Mitchell, Beth Braswell and Reanna Braswell provided one hit apiece.

"We've been struggling with the bats all year," coach Braswell said. "Of course, our defense (four errors) suffered a little bit today. We missed some balls that we should have had. We just didn't play ball.

"I feel like we had a great year. We just didn't finish strong enough."