SPIVEY'S CORNER — One pitch.
According to Midway ace Miranda Holmes, that was the difference in Monday's one-run loss to East Duplin in which a late homer turned the tide.
In the series finale at home Wednesday, the Lady Raiders' senior pitcher held the visitors in check, leading to a 2-0 shutout victory that forces a tie atop the East Central 2A Conference standings.
"Coming into this game, I was honestly a little nervous, seeing as we were ahead last game and things got out of hand off of just one pitch, one swing," Holmes said after finishing with a team-high 13 strikeouts, giving up just two hits through seven innings.
"So this game, I really wanted to make sure that one pitch didn't happen on us."
Thanks to Holmes and gutsy defensive efforts from her infielders, the Lady Raiders (7-1, 7-1 ECC) kept East Duplin (6-1, 5-1 ECC) hitters off-balanced and gave the squad its first loss of the season.
Holmes credits additional preparation during pregame, where she focused on specific pitches for the varied Lady Panthers lineup, for the dominating performance.
Meanwhile, Midway coach Susan Clark says that even with the distractions of prom and spring break that are customary for high school athletes this time of year, the team's willpower was encouraging.
"It's awesome. They work well together. ... They wanted it really bad," Clark said.
"They are pressing themselves so hard at that plate because they want it so bad. They got to understand that you got to relax."
Scoreless through three innings, Holmes was also one of two Lady Raiders to cross the plate in the fourth.
Maranda Byrd and Bella Bryant each finished with an RBI in the deciding frame to get the win.
"That was one of the most exciting games I've been to and played in, in a long time," Holmes said.
"When we strung those hits together, I was up off my feet jumping ... and I was hoping and praying that we could just keep it up."
The pair of runs were all the insurance Holmes needed as she kept the basepaths clear over the next three innings, for the most part, until the final frame when Ashlyn Stokes stroked a one-out triple to center field.
On the next at-bat, however, Stokes was called out at the plate after trying to run home on a fielder's choice, setting up Holmes' final punchout to close the win.
"I honestly feel like last game was a big wake-up call for us ... and that made us step up our game tonight and really work hard," Holmes said.
"So, I think that this kind of sent us a message, like "hey, we have to really try and really go at it and give it our all to get into the playoffs."
Lainey Hughes, Rylie Williams and Emma Clark added a hit apiece in the victory for Midway who hosts rival Clinton on Monday, April 12.
Triton 7, Union Pines 2.
Southern Lee 0, Harnett Central 9.
South Johnston 14, East Wake 1.
Donnell Coley can be reached at email@example.com or 910-230-2040.