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Vipers look to home playoff berth with win over Southern Durham

Apr. 24—HENDERSON — Vance County's softball team took care of business on Tuesday, beating the Southern Durham Spartans 17-2 in Vipers Country.

Charlotte Wortham was a real bright spot on the mound for the Vipers, racking up seven strikeouts in just three innings.

After giving up a homer in the first inning to senior Jasmyn Wilson, Wortham and the Vipers' offense responded, clawing back to gain a 2-1 lead.

In the second inning, Wortham struggled with her pitch location, throwing multiple balls low into the dirt. After loading the bases on three straight walks with no outs, catcher Jayla Smith approached her pitcher on the mound and offered a few words.

Whatever Smith told her must have worked, as Wortham struck out the next batter looking. Despite the solid framing from Smith trying to help out Wortham at the plate, the next pitch was still too low. But Wortham responded with a strikeout pitch high and outside that caused the Spartan batter to whiff.

With Natalynn Snipes-Draine up to bat for the Spartans with two outs, Wortham put a strike on her with the first pitch. A perfect pitch down the middle gave her strike two — and then froze her with movement on the next pitch for strike three. Wortham must have taken a page out of Blake Vick's playbook with the three-walk, three-strikeout inning, allowing no hits or runs for the Spartans.

After Wilson was subbed in on the mound for the Spartans, the Vipers got it rolling in the second inning. With Zari Terry in a full count, a dropped third strike let the speedy sophomore get aboard safely.

Wortham showed that Vick wasn't the only dominant two-way player on the team, as she raked in an RBI triple to score Terry. The Vipers poured it on, with the help of a few errors from the Spartans, and scored four runs in the second inning, pulling ahead 8-1.

Once the Vipers got the bats rolling, there was no stopping them as the batting order continued to turn over. Vance County scored nine runs in the third inning to go up 17-2, forcing the early stoppage.

"If they just put the ball in play, everything is going to fall," said Vance County coach Sheila Gill. "Once they started hitting the ball, it showed."

With the win, the Vipers are poised to finish second in the regular season conference standings — with a chance to earn a home playoff berth. For the last few years, the Vipers have finished as runner-ups in the conference behind the softball powerhouse of South Granville.

Now with Vick committed to North Carolina Central University next year, Wortham is being groomed as Vance County's next ace.

"She has confidence," said coach Gill. "Today she got a little frustrated, but she has to just figure out the sweet spot. Hopefully, we can get the defense to do the rest."

Vance County will play its next game back at home on Thursday against their county line rivals, Warren County.

STATSBlake Vick (Sr.) — 2-3, 3 SB, 2 R

Zari Terry (So.) — 1-2, 2 BB, 2 RBI

Charlotte Wortham (So.) — 2-3, 3B, 3 RBI