Monday, 07 May 2018 07:00

Middle School Sports Report: area schools prepare for baseball, soccer and softball playoff runs

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Ellerbe's Sheila Martinez (5) and Rebeca Avalos (7) are just two of several Richmond County athletes hoping to win SEMSAC titles in three different sports. Ellerbe's Sheila Martinez (5) and Rebeca Avalos (7) are just two of several Richmond County athletes hoping to win SEMSAC titles in three different sports. Photo courtesy of Kyle Pillar.

RICHMOND COUNTY - As several of Richmond Senior High School’s spring sports teams are preparing this week for a run at a state title, several county middle schools are ramping up for their postseason runs as well.

With all regular season play in the books for boys and girls soccer, baseball and softball, the quest for a Southeastern Middle School Athletic Conference title in each respective sport is set to begin early this week.

There are 10 schools in the SEMSAC in four different counties, and nine of them qualified for at least one sport heading into postseason play. They are: Anson, Carver, Cordova, East Hoke, Ellerbe, Hamlet, Rockingham, Sandy Grove, Spring Hill and West Hoke middle schools. The only school not represented in any of the four postseason brackets is Cordova Middle School.

Below is a breakdown of each sport’s bracket and first round matchups:

 

BOYS SOCCER - TOP-SEEDED HAMLET LOOKING TO SWEEP COMPETITION

In 2017, Rockingham Middle School’s boy’s soccer team won the SEMSAC title, defeating Ellerbe in a close contest. This year, if the Rockets want to repeat, they will have to go through No. 1 seed Hamlet Middle School. The Red Rams not only beat the Rockets in the regular season, but also beat Rockingham in every boys sport this school year.

Coached by Earl Nicholson, the Red Rams finished the season 7-1-1, and most recently notched a 1-0 win over Ellerbe on Wednesday in the regular season finale. The Red Rams, along with No. 2 seeded Carver Middle School (Scotland County), will get opening round byes.

Rounding out the final four spots in the boy’s soccer play are No. 3 Rockingham which will host No. 6 Sandy Grove; and No. 4 West Hoke will welcome in cross-county foe No. 5 East Hoke. Hamlet will play the winner of the Hoke County matchup, while the winner of Rockingham and Sandy Grove will head to Carver.

The Ellerbe boys just missed out this season after making the title game last year. The Wildcats finished tied for sixth place, but lost to Sandy Grove head-to-head, eliminating them from contention.


GIRLS SOCCER - ROCKINGHAM, HAMLET AND ELLERBE NOTCH TOP THREE SEEDS

Three Richmond County teams made impressive runs during the regular season, as the Lady Rockets of Rockingham went a perfect 9-0 to earn the No. 1 seed heading into the postseason.

The Lady Red Rams of Hamlet and the Lady Wildcats of Ellerbe also had impressive season’s, as both finished with 7-1-1 overall records, tying in a 1-1 contest against one another on Wednesday in the regular season finale. Following a coin toss, Hamlet took the No. 2 seed, causing Ellerbe to miss out on an opening round bye and play as the No. 3 team.

Rockingham also won the 2017 SEMSAC title, then coached by Brendan Snell, knocking off head coach Derek Anderson’s Lady Wildcats at home. The road to the girls soccer title will run through Rockingham, as the final three teams in contention are No. 4 East Hoke, No. 5 Sandy Grove (Hoke County) and No. 6 Spring Hill (Scotland County).

First-round games are scheduled to start as early as Monday, with No. 3 Ellerbe hosting No. 6 Spring Hill, which it beat 1-0 in the regular season. The winner of that game will travel to Hamlet in round two. No. 4 East Hoke will welcome in No. 5 Sandy Grove, with that winner facing off against Rockingham in the second round.

 

BASEBALL - UNDEFEATED CARVER LOOKING TO REPEAT

Carver Middle School, which is located in Laurel Hill, was the only SEMSAC baseball team to collect a perfect undefeated record in the 2018 regular season.  There are 11 baseball teams in the conference, as Anson Middle School is large enough to field two teams. The Eagles of Carver went 10-0 and are looking to repeat as conference champions after winning the title in 2017.

Coached by Rodney Patterson, who has ties to Richmond County, Carver will receive a first-round bye. Joining the Eagles with a free pass is Hamlet, as the Red Rams tallied a 9-1 overall record to lock up the No. 2 seed. Not far behind Josh Peele’s Red Rams were the Rockingham Rockets, as head coach Jamie McDonald’s squad finished 8-2 on the season, with its two losses coming at the hands of Carver and Hamlet.

Also vying for a chance to upset the top three teams for a conference title are No. 4 West Hoke, No. 5 Spring Hill and No. 6 Anson Blue. Rockingham will host Anson Blue in the three-six matchup, while Spring Hill will travel to Raeford to play West Hoke. The winner of the Rockingham/Anson Blue game will try to upset No. 2 Hamlet, while West Hoke or Spring Hill will give its best shot at eliminating a heavily favored Carver team.

 

SOFTBALL - CARVER SOFTBALL ALSO LOOKS TO FINISH PERFECT SEASON

Just like their baseball counterparts, the Carver Middle School softball players are looking to finish their 2018 season with a perfect record en route to a conference title. The No. 1 seeded Lady Eagles also went a perfect 10-0 in the regular season, as No. 2 seeded Rockingham will look to get on a roll of its own and upset Carver and repeat as SEMSAC champions.

Last season, the Lady Rockets won the title under head coach Jeff Ingram, and only suffered one loss this year, falling to the Lady Eagles. Still, the impressive 9-1 overall record was good enough to lock up the No. 2 spot and a first-round bye. Anson, which also has two softball teams, had its Blue team finish 8-2 and will enter the tournament with the No. 3 overall seed.

Also making the cut for softball were No. 4 Anson Orange, No. 5 Hamlet and No. 6 East Hoke. These three teams, along with Anson Blue will play in the early part of the week in the opening round. No. 6 East Hoke will battle No. 3 Anson Blue, with the winner making a trip to Rockingham in the second round, while No. 5 Hamlet will square off against No. 4 Anson Orange. The winner of that game will head to Carver, and much like the baseball bracket, look to extinguish the Lady Eagles’ hopes of a conference crown.

The ROSports department will reach out to area coaches and report on each sports’ playoff progress throughout the week.

Last modified on Monday, 07 May 2018 08:23

Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

Submit local sports scores to: kpillar@richmondobserver.com

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