UP ends Southern winning streak, playoffs await

May 2—Southern Lee started its Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament semifinal against Union Pines as if the Lady Cavaliers were set to sweep aside yet another challenger in a three-week unbeaten run.

However, after two innings with a 3-0 lead, the Lady Cavaliers finally met their match. Union Pines' bats caught fire in the third inning and the Lady Vikings broke Southern's seven-game winning streak with a 14-4 victory that sent them into the finals.

Southern (12-8 overall) still earned a state playoff berth and will await the announcement of the 3A brackets this weekend. The Lady Cavaliers currently rank as the 15th team in the 3A East and may well get to host their opening playoff contest. All four of the conference's 3A teams are in playoff position as of press time—Scotland (No. 1), Union Pines (No. 10), Southern, and Lee County (No. 30).

Carrie Ellen Bryan started things off with a bang for the Lady Cavs. Maggie Lucas reached on an error leading off and then Albani Hooker singled. Bryan hit the first pitch she saw over the center-field fence for a 3-0 lead. Southern threatened to get more after Natalie Guevara and Ava Sharpe singled, but Union Pines got out of the jam with no more damage.

They threatened again in the third when Sydney Bisson and Delaney Maria had hits with two out, but again Union Pines wiggled off the hook.

The Lady Vikings came alive in the bottom half of the inning. Their first four batters of the third reached, and the score was 3-3 with two out when Trinity Whitt hit a three-run homer to put Union Pines in front 6-3.

Back-to-back doubles leading off the fourth by Natalie Auman and Kileigh Cameron extended the Lady Vikings' lead, as both eventually scored. Guevara got one of them back on a sacrifice fly in the fifth, but Union Pines stayed hot, as Kyleigh McNeill had a two-run homer in the bottom half of the inning and ended it with an 11-4 lead. Three more Union Pines runs in the sixth ended it.

Auman was the top hitter for Union Pines (15-6), going 4-for-5 with two RBI and three runs scored. Cameron had three hits. Bryan and Bisson both had two hits for Southern Lee, and Bryan drove in three of the four runs.

Union Pines will play at Scotland tonight for the tournament title at 7 p.m.