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ON THE RISE AGAIN
STRICKLAND SLIDES. Nash Central High’s Brittani Strickland makes it into third base during Monday evening’s home softball victory against Bunn. (Graphic photos by Geoff Neville)
ROCKY MOUNT -- Two teams with a strong softball tradition -- both currently and in the past -- met Monday for a frigid non-league fast-pitch showdown.

The contest featured a battle between host Nash Central and Bunn -- and a battle with the elements as high winds and cool temperatures meant that players from both sides were as bundled up as possible.

But Central remained red-hot in the early portion of the campaign with a 9-4 decision over the Ladycats at The Dawg Pound on the NCHS campus.

The Lady Bulldogs have dropped just one contest all year -- a nail-biter to perennial powerhouse D.H. Conley out of Pitt County.

Bunn is fielding a young team this spring,  but the Ladycats are still off to an effective start. BHS is a two-time qualifier for the Class 2-A State Final Four at Walnut Creek.

But Central would control the majority of Monday’s proceedings before Bunn rallied for a trio of runs in the top of the seventh.

NC senior veteran Lindsey Sharpe went the distance for the Lady Bulldogs.

After allowing a BHS run in the top of the second, Sharpe wasn’t dented again until a seventh stanza that featured a pair of NC errors -- along with RBI from Bunn’s Victoria Ely and Jayla Cofield.

By then, Central had roared to a comfortable cushion, though Bunn struck first with an unearned run.

It didn’t take long for the Lady Bulldogs to respond off BHS freshman Erica Davis, who was given a start on the mound as the Ladycats chose to rest regular Parker Brantley.

NC freshman Harley Winders delivered the biggest blow of the frame as she ripped an RBI triple to right-center field.

Winders then came home on an error, and the Lady Bulldogs were ahead for good at 2-1.

Central would gain some insurance by sending eight batters to the plate in the third while delivering a trio of clutch runs.

Caley Bass opened the stanza with a triple. One out later, Brittani Strickland brought Bass home with a grounder, with Strickland reaching off an ensuing throwing error.

Rachel Pearce kept things going with a single, and Winders and Sarah Keel followed with back-to-back RBI base knocks.

Nash Central, now 7-1, finished with 10 hits, compared to six for the Ladycats.

Pearce, Sharpe, Winders and Bass all delivered two hits, while Strickland came through with three RBI.

Sharpe struck out four and walked one while earning the mound conquest.

Nash Central opened Big East Conference play on Tuesday. On the same day, Bunn was slated to travel to Northwest Halifax.

Both clubs will not be on the diamond this coming week because of Spring Break but will resume their respective league schedules in two weeks.

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