By RYAN HERMAN
The only thing standing between West Lincoln and a conference title is the team that handed the Rebels their only league loss.
West Lincoln and Bandys are scheduled to meet again on Tuesday, and if the Rebels win this time around they’ll clinch the Southern District 7 Athletic 2A Conference softball championship outright. If The Trojans sweep, the teams will be tied in the loss column, and West Lincoln will need some help because Bandys (9-2 SD-7) has two leagues games left beyond Tuesday while West Lincoln (15-3, 11-1) has just one.
While Tuesday’s game isn’t a must-win situation, Rebels coach Tyler Sain sure would like to take care of business then and control his team’s own destiny.
“It’s not a must-win game. It’s a game that, sure, we’d like to win, but it’s not a do-or-die playoff situation-type game,” he said. “We are still leading with two games to go in the driver’s seat.”
Bandys beat West Lincoln 9-5 on March 27 in a game in which Regan Smith hit two home runs and drove in five. The Rebels also had a few mental mistakes late, including a lack of communication on a deep fly ball to right-center field and a popup between the pitcher and third baseman. Both miscues allowed Smith her second home run, a three-run shot that turned a 4-3 deficit to 7-3.
West Lincoln has lost only once, since –– a non-league loss to Fred T. Foard –– so it learned from its mistakes the last time the two teams played.
With a possible conference title on the line, it’s time to put those lessons into action.
“To beat them we have to play solid defensively and make the routine plays,” Sain said. “We are gonna score runs, but we have to get ahead of their hitters and work the corners of the plate for us to be successful.”
After Tuesday’s game, weather permitting, West Lincoln is scheduled to wrap up its regular season at East Lincoln on Thursday with the conference tournament scheduled to begin next week. Bandys has a make-up game with the Mustangs on Wednesday, and it plays seventh-place Newton-Conover on Thursday.
KNIGHTS IN LINE FOR TOP 3A SPOT: North Lincoln’s softball team is also trying to win a title of sorts this week.
The Knights (14-5, 9-3 North Piedmont 3A/4A) can’t win the overall league title –– undefeated 4A Alexander Central has already wrapped that up –– but a win either on Tuesday against last-place Statesville or at fifth-place West Iredell on Thursday will solidify a second-place finish in the league overall and give them its top 3A seed for the state playoffs, which begin May 14.
EAGLES WIN SP1A: Lincoln Charter’s 17-1 win at Pine Lake Prep last week gave it the Southern Piedmont 1A softball title outright.
The Eagles (14-2, 11-0) face Community School of Davidson on Friday to wrap up its regular season of conference play.
MUSTANGS STILL IN SD-7 RACE: Although its loss at West Caldwell hurt, East Lincoln is still in the hunt for a league title due to Bandys’ surprise upset of league-leading Bunker Hill.
The Bears (16-4, 10-2) have a one-game lead over the second-place Mustangs (11-13, 9-3), and both have two games left.
Bunker Hill hosts Newton-Conover on Tuesday then travels to West Caldwell on Thursday. East Lincoln will be at Maiden on Tuesday, then hosts West Lincoln in the regular season finale on Thursday.
KNIGHTS ALSO IN LINE FOR TOP 3A SPOT: Just like its softball team, North Lincoln’s baseball team can also win the league’s top 3A spot for next month’s state playoffs.
The Knights (11-9-1, 6-6-0) are a game behind West Iredell in the 3A race, and both have two games left –– the last against each other at West Iredell on Thursday.
North Lincoln hosts Statesville on Tuesday while West Iredell travels to second-place Alexander Central.