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Lady Knights roll in round one

Freshman Kayla Alexander made her mark in the North Lincoln Knights’ 9-0 victory over Hayesville (11-6) in the first round of the 1A State Playoffs.
Alexander went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and three runs scored. Two of Alexander’s hits were inside-the-park homeruns.
“We made some minor adjustments of what she was doing and the last couple of games they’ve really worked and she’s made a lot better contact,” Knights’ head coach Rick Brown said of his talented freshman.
“That really helps the meat part of the lineup. The bottom part of the lineup has started coming through and scoring some runs too,” he added.
Senior Nicole Hall, Donia McDonald and Courtney Feldon had two hits apiece. Hall, Feldon and Jenna Torbert also pitched in with one RBI each.
While North Lincoln pounded out 11-hits, junior Nicole Baxter’s performance was just as stellar.
Baxter pitched a complete game shutout, while striking out 11 batters in the process.
“I’m was just really happy we got our bats going. People that weren’t getting hits were getting homeruns. Kayla’s been in a little slump and she got up there and proved she was worthy,” Baxter said.
Baxter walked the bases loaded, but demonstrated her mental toughness by striking out the side.
“I just lost my focus. By the third walk, ‘I’m sitting there going I’m not walking anybody home, not in a playoff game.’ I just threw the ball and didn’t aim it.”
The lone bright spot for Hayesville was centerfielder Carissa Dancer. Dancer robbed Baxter of an extra-base hit and RBIs by tracking down a hard-hit ball in the bottom of the second. Dancer has threw out a Knights’ runner at the plate in the bottom of the fourth.
Up next for the Lady Knights in the second round is the Smoky Mountain’s No. 1 seed Swain County (16-4), whom North Lincoln will visit early next week.
At press time, Brown believed the game would be Tuesday.
While the day has yet to be established, the Devils’ pitcher is not. Sarah Davis is the team’s ace and will pitch versus North Lincoln, barring something unforeseen.
“Everybody I talk to tells me they have one of the better pitchers around. She’s the real deal,” Brown said.
The second round match-up could very easily turn into a pitcher’s duel between the talented two pitchers.
Brown feels one key area will likely be the difference-maker.
“I believe the team that makes the fewest mistakes will probably win that game,” he said.
“The girls are continuing their momentum from the conference tournament. The hitting has probably been the highlight of the last couple of games,” Brown, who is proud of the way his team is playing, said.
by John Mark Brooks

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