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Cashie finishes second

Finishing second in the state was an accomplishment.

But it was one that wasn’t enough for the Cashie Youth League 18-and-under softball team during the Babe Ruth State Tournament last weekend.

“I think we did well,” said catcher Mindy Miller. “Nobody wants to come in second place, but I still think we can beat Pitt County in the regionals. If we play well, we’re capable of beating anybody.”

The 18-and-under team went 4-2 in the state tournament, defeating Rosewood, Edgecombe County and Oxford (twice). Both of their losses came to state champion Pitt County.

While they were somewhat disappointed in the second place finish, Head Coach Jessica Hoggard admitted they did better than she may have thought.

“I was surprised and happy,” she said. “I’m excited because I think the girls did a good job. We had fun throughout the tournament and that is what’s important. Even in our losses, we had a good time.”

Hoggard said she got solid pitching from right-hander Megan Cowan and left-hander Courtney Dunlow and timely hitting to surprise most of the state as they claimed second place.

The second place finish means the team advances to Friday’s Southeast Regional in Wilson where they will open up against the Virginia State Champion at 5 p.m.

Hoggard, who was assisted by Dianne Cowand, is in her second year leading the team. She said while she knew there was talent, she wasn’t sure how well they would do coming together as a team.

Playing as a team was never a problem, however, as the group quickly gelled.

“We played together as a team the entire time we were there,” Hoggard said. “I couldn’t have asked for them to come together better.”

Cowand agreed.

“I’m proud of them,” she said. “They did an excellent job working together as a team. They never got down on themselves.”

Twelve young ladies made up the team that finished second in the state. They included Miller, Courtney Dunlow, Abby Parker, Carla Cooper, Mandy Bazemore, Kaitlyn Dunlow, Leanne Eubanks, Chelsea Dunlow, Megan Cowan, Brittany Hoggard, Brittany Howell and Holly Cowand.

The ladies who made up the team were pleased.

“It was a good tournament,” said Cowan, who was the winning pitcher in three of the contests. “I think we did a good job considering we have been apart for a year. We came back together quickly.

“We need to keep working, especially on our offense, so we can be ready when the regionals come this weekend,” she added. “We still have some unfinished business.”

Left-hander Courtney Dunlow was the winning pitcher in the other victory as Cashie defeated Oxford.

“I knew they were a good hitting team,” Dunlow said. “I tried to use the corners and some of my junk pitches and my catcher, Mindy, did a very good job behind the plate.

“I was very proud of us,” she continued. “We went further than I was expecting.”

Eubanks was also happy with her team’s finish.

“I was extremely excited,” she said. “To tell you the truth, my favorite was the first game because it was nothing but softball. It just came natural to us. It was awesome.”

The Cashie team opened the tournament with a 9-1 victory over Rosewood.

Eubanks had a good portion of the offensive damage in that game, going 3-for-4 with a homerun, a triple and three RBIs. Cowan, who was the winning pitcher, was also a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate.

Courtney Dunlow was 2-for-3 for Cashie with three runs scored and Kaitlyn Dunlow as 2-for-4 with a run scored. Also collecting hits were Howell and Cowand.

In game two, Pitt County defeated Cashie 2-0. Courtney Dunlow, Eubanks, Cowand, Brittany Hoggard and Cowan all had hits.

Cashie then rallied back to defeat Edgecombe County 11-5in the double-elimination tournament.

Courtney Dunlow was again solid at the plate with a 3-for-4 performance that included three RBIs. Chelsea Dunlow was 2-for-4 with three RBIs as well.

Cowan, Eubanks, Cowand, Hoggard and Howell each collected two hits in the victory.

Against Oxford, Cashie claimed a 6-4 victory thanks to Dunlow going 3-for-3 with a pair of RBIs. Cowan and Eubanks had two hits each for the Windsor-based team. Also collecting hits were Abby Parker, Cowan, Hoggard and Chelsea Dunlow.

Pitt County then claimed the state title with a 9-0 victory.

Looking forward, Jessica Hoggard thinks her team will be ready when regional play begins tomorrow (Friday).

“I feel good,” she said. “I think we stand a good chance of winning as long as we hit the ball.

“We have to stay together and play as a team, but I think we have that under control,” she closed.