South Johnston softball’s trio of seniors weighs in following the best start in eight years.
FOUR OAKS — Look no further than South Johnston softball’s trio of seniors as to why the group is off to its best start in eight years.
For Hannah Beasley, Friday’s 14-0 shutout win over Quad County 3A Conference opponent Fike was yet another positive step in the right direction as she, Kennedy Byrd and Victoria James wrap up their prep careers.
“It’s bittersweet, but you know what, we’re just gonna make it the best we can and try to win conference,” Beasley said about the upperclassmen’s bond after going 1-for-2 with two RBIs.
Beasley says the three have played together, off-and-on, since they were 10 years old and now use that chemistry to lead one of the area’s hottest teams.
South (7-1, 2-0 QCC) is riding a six-game win streak with four coming by way of shutout. Byrd leads the team with a 3-1 record and posted a season-high 13 strikeouts during the 5-0 road victory at Triton on March 9.
James was the latest Lady Trojans pitcher to keep the opposition scoreless, giving up just one hit while collecting a season-high nine strikeouts Friday. She enjoys splitting time with Byrd after spending plenty of time opposite each other as pitching rivals in middle school.
“We were going head-to-head every game that we played. It’s great to be playing with her now because we’re both very talented,” James said.
Meanwhile, the Lady Trojans offense has been just as impressive as they have outscored opponents 81-20.
Byrd, James and Beasley each boast batting averages north of .340 and have combined for 23 RBIs.
“It’s their time ... they know the expectations, they know the standard,” South coach Ashley Ennis said of the veteran captains.
“It helps to have those girls. They know what we do at practice, how we approach things ... they’ve bought in from the time that they’ve been here and they want to play for South Johnston and represent us in the right way.”
For James, her time in Four Oaks hasn’t come without challenges.
She overcame a shoulder injury freshman year and now feels at the top of her game after setting career marks both at the plate and inside the circle this season.
“Sometimes you have bad days where you only do one thing good, and sometimes you do both good. So, it feels really good whenever things are going your way,” James said.
As the group continues to chase down the dominant teams of South’s past, Byrd pointed towards the gutsy nonconference wins that have set the stage in 2022.
The Lady Trojans kicked off the campaign in thrilling fashion, topping Midway 9-8 via walk-off in the 10th inning.
“I think it really just boosted our confidence and showed us that we’re such a good team and we have such great potential throughout the season,” Byrd said of the March 1 victory.
The Louisburg College softball commit, who is tied for the team lead with 10 RBIs, also noted wins over nearby foes Cleveland and North Johnston that have further emboldened its claim as a top-tier club.
“I definitely want us to go deep into the playoffs. I think we have a great potential of doing that and winning a conference championship this year,” Byrd added.
Next up, South hits the teeth of its league slate starting with Tuesday’s road matchup with a one-loss C.B. Aycock group.
“As Coach Ennis says, we’re taking a business trip,” Byrd said.
“We know that C.B. Aycock is probably one of the biggest rivals we have right now, so we’re ready.”
Donnell Coley can be reached at email@example.com or 910-230-2040.