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Lady Bears get (another) historic win

AHOSKIE – They just keep winning, and making history.

Hertford County defeated Bertie 4-3 in Northeastern Coastal Conference softball action here Tuesday evening, marking the first time the Lady Bears had topped their long-time rivals in the fast-pitch era.

Bertie threatened in the first inning, but the Bears’ Emily Merritt pitched her way out, avoiding a threat.

Merritt got some insurance in the Bears’ half of the first when she reached on an error and D.L. Watford followed, and on a full-count blasted a two-run home run over the fence in left centerfield, scoring two runs. Mya Mabine followed with a single, stole second, went to third on a groundout, and scored the third run of the inning on Brionna Morings’ base hit into the gap in right centerfield. It was 3-0, Hertford County, after one complete inning of softball.

Emily Merritt’s Northeastern Coastal Conference win Tuesday over Bertie, 4-3, marked the Lady Bears’ first-ever victory over their rivals and left the two schools tied for second in the conference standings, both at 6-3. Photo by William Anthony

Bertie got two of those runs back in the top of the third when Carley Dawson singled, stole second, reached third on a passed ball, and scored on a ground out by Alyssa Byrum. Jessi Mizelle then singled, stole second, reached third on another passed ball, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Stephanie Castelloe. The Lady Falcons had pulled within one at 3-2.

Hertford County got one of those runs back in the bottom of the third when Mabine walked, went to third on Karren New’s single, and scored on Emily Rhodes’ ground out. It was a two run lead for the Bears, 4-2.

Both teams ‘held serve’ with a stalemate for the next three full innings before the Falcons mounted a comeback. Rachel Hoggard got a one-out single to right, but was erased when Dawson hit a shallow pop-up fielded by Watford in centerfield, and she threw out Hoggard at second on the fielder’s choice. Byrum then bunted her way on and when the ball was thrown away for a two-base error, Dawson scored; Byrum reached third, and Bertie was within a run of tying the game at 4-3. Mizelle was walked to put runners on the corners, but a fly-out ended the threat and the game.

Merritt took the win for Hertford County. She lasted seven innings, allowing eight hits and three runs while striking out five and walking one.

Alyssa Byrum took the hard-luck loss for Bertie, going six innings, allowing six hits and four runs while striking out eight.

The Bears had six hits in the game.  New and Morings had two hits each while Watford and Mabine had the other hits; Watford’s, the home run.

Hoggard led Bertie with two hits in two at bats. Byrum, Castelloe, Dawson, Miranda Meldick, Brianna Forehand, and Taylor Scott had one hit each.

Hertford County climbs above .500 at 11-10, 6-3 in the league; while Bertie dips to an even 9-9 and also are at 6-3.

That tie in conference will be broken at Senior Night today (Thur.) at Bertie when the same two teams meet with a 4:30 p.m. start.