ELKIN - The bright lights of the playoffs can shine brighter for some teams.
For the inexperienced and youthful Lady Elks, the pressure of the postseason got the best of them Wednesday night in the Mountain Valley Conference tournament opener.
Elkin fell behind early as Wilkes Central cruised to the 10-0 victory in the 4-5 matchup at Crater Park.
“Going from 1-15 to 8-8, these girls have come a long ways from last year,” coach Steve Shaw explained. “We are still a young team with no seniors and a lot of them are just lacking the experience.
“If we gave them a ballgame today, it would be a loss we can handle. But we didn’t.”
Looking for revenge for a regular-season sweep, the Lady Eagles came out swinging on the road. Central struck for four early runs before the Elks picked up their bats for the first time.
After a quick 1-2-3 inning in the first, Elkin picked up its first hit in the second on a lead-off single by Rebekah Cranford. But Cranford was stranded at second.
The Elks showed signs of life in the third, loading the bases with two outs, but were unable to push across a run.
Immediately after escaping the jam, Central added a pair of runs in the top of the fourth to extend its lead out to 6-0.
From there, the Eagles added runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to coast to the 10-0 victory in the first round of the conference tournament.
“They had hitters 1-through-9 and they did their job. When we did hit the ball, we hit it right at a glove and you can’t expect to win like that,” Shaw said.
Elkin was limited to four hits on the night - two from leadoff hitter Cayley Shoemaker - in a disappointing showing at home.
“You have to give it to Coach Walsh and his group. Kaitlyn Perry did her job and that was the best she’s pitched against us all year,” Shaw explained. “They came out with a vengeance today and were all over Cayley from the get-go. We expected them to come out like that to get revenge for those two losses.”
Shaw and the Lady Elks now wait to hear their 1A state playoff fate when the brackets are released next week.
“I don’t know if we need to go to the playoffs if this is how we are going to play,” he said. “But if we do go, we are definitely going to work on our bats because we haven’t seen them in a month.”
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.