Faith Christian, RMA to host playoff games in softball, baseball
By PATRICK MASON
Monday, May 13, 2019
If there is any week in the spring sports season that matters the most for the baseball and softball teams at Rocky Mount Academy and Faith Christian, then this is it.
The NCISAA baseball playoffs are into the semifinals, just one step away from the state championship series. Elsewhere softball playoffs begin Tuesday, and Rocky Mount Academy is back with more firepower.
Let’s start here with the Eagles, who earned the top seed in the 2-A bracket and will host No. 8 Salem Baptist Christian at 4 p.m.
Last year, as the No. 3 seed, the Eagles finished second after losing to Freedom Christian Academy in the state championship. But RMA has home-field advantage throughout the playoffs this time around and is hoping to be one of two teams using its field at the end of the week.
RMA ran off a 17-1 season, and enters the playoffs currently riding a six-game winning streak. Salem Baptist and its 3-6 record will have a lot to deal with, starting with finding a way to hit the Eagles overpowering pitching.
That brings us to freshman Emily Winstead, who has been a difference-maker for the Eagles this season, both in the circle and at the plate.
Winstead owns an 11-1 record that comes with a 0.39 ERA. Across 90 innings, the freshman has struck out 223 batters, allowed 19 hits and five earned runs.
Her dominance in the circle has allowed a talented lineup a stress-free environment to score runs and has responded by averaging 10 per game. Winstead helps out here, too, with a team-high five home runs, while junior Katie Oliver leads RMA in a number of other offensive categories.
Oliver’s 27 hits are a team high, and she also leads in RBI (33), doubles (9) and average (.491). Elizabeth Winstead, meanwhile, has a team-high four triples, a .490 batting average and has scored the most runs with 34.
RMA has eight players batting above .300, and as a lineup has walked more times (95) than it has struck out (88).
The winner will face either No. 5 Wayne Christian School or No. 4 Faith Christian in Friday’s quarterfinals.
Speaking of the Patriots, here’s a look at the other three games on Tuesday in the NCISAA postseason.
No. 5 Wayne Christian School (7-3) at No. 4 Faith Christian (7-9), 5:30 p.m.
Outlook: The Patriots earned a first-round home game despite a losing record, though the team had an encouraging finish to the season by winning three of the past four games. The recent hot stretch comes on the heels of a five-game losing streak at the start of April.
FCS has played the teams seeded ahead of it tough, losing to last season’s state champions and current No. 3 seeded Freedom Christian Academy by one run earlier this year. The Patriots also lost to No. 2 Halifax Academy and No. 1 Rocky Mount Academy by single digits.
As for Tuesday’s opponent, these teams have played earlier in the season with the Patriots losing to Wayne Christian at home on March 15 in eight innings.
Winner gets: Either No. 1 Rocky Mount Academy/No. 8 Salem Baptist Christian School
No. 8 Harrells Christian Academy (8-12) at No. 4 Rocky Mount Academy (15-6), 6 p.m.
Outlook: Harrells Christian Academy on Monday upset the top seed in the NICSAA 2-A bracket in Westchester Country Day, 10-9.
The upset allows RMA to host Tuesday’s semifinal instead of traveling to the top seed. The Eagles have won four of their past five games, including a six inning, run-rule home win on Saturday in the third round.
Despite not scoring until the fifth inning in that win, RMA was able to get through by having all of its pitching available for Tuesda with starter Isaiah Thomas throwing 57 pitches.
A win here means a berth in the state championship series.
Winner gets: Either No. 2 Faith Christian/No. 6 Westminster Catawba Christian in state championship series.
No. 6 Westminster Catawba Christian (8-9) at No. 2 Faith Christian (19-3), 7 p.m.
Outlook: Another upset on Monday sent Westminster into the semifinals after defeating No. 3 Freedom Christian Academy, 3-1.
The Patriots have won 11 consecutive games, but won’t have ace Alex Crosby available after the left-hander needed 101 pitches to secure Saturday’s win. FCS defeated Westminster earlier this season, 3-2, in a tight game.
FCS is looking for its third consecutive state championship, and a win on Tuesday will give the Patriots a chance to play for their third title in as many seasons at home.
Winner gets: Either No. 4 Rocky Mount Academy/No. 8 Harrells Christian Academy