Softball Panthers ready to roar – Washington Daily News

The Softball Panthers are ready to roar

Posted at 20:17, Tuesday, March 7, 2023

A year after a deep postseason run, some programs are in rebuilding mode. This is not the case at Northside, where the softball program is rebooting rather than starting over.

Last spring, the Panthers lost to eventual East champion Bear Grass in the fourth round, ending the season 16-8. Only one upperclassman, Paige Sawyer, graduated, and only one upperclassman, Hannah Black, returned. An experienced group of juniors and sophomores make up the rest of the roster along with several freshmen.

Kevan Rabat (Ray-bat) takes over the head coaching duties from Michelle Leathers, who is taking spring break after coaching volleyball and basketball.

Rabat moved to eastern North Carolina around this time last year after coaching high school baseball and softball near Frederick, Maryland for several years.

“I’m looking forward to being a part of Northside athletics and I’m excited to have my assistants (Rodney Brady and Amelia Woolard) coming back. They have been very helpful so far and the girls have been great. We are still getting to know each other, but this is a talented team.”

Juniors Bella Boykin and Jaden Clark for an effective duo with sophomore London Keech in the reserves. The trio combined for a no-hitter in last week’s opening day 24-0 rout of Tarboro. Clark pitched most of the innings last year after Boykin broke his finger moving to third base in Washington’s season opener.

Sophomore Samantha Braddy will handle the catching duties with Jorden Clark at third and Emmaleigh Cherry at shortstop with other positions depending on who pitches.

Black anchors the outfield in the middle, and Rabat expects his senior to have a big season.

“She hits the ball hard, has the speed to cover center field well and leads by example,” Rabat said. “These girls have known each other for a long time and our chemistry is very good. The girls adjusted well to the slower pitch in the Tarboro game, which bodes well for good results. They’ve been hitting each other all spring in practice, so we’re in a good place to start the season.”

Northside’s 8-2 record in the Coastal Plains Conference was less than 2A East Carteret play last year. Pamlica County traditionally provides a tough test, and Southside has seen a big improvement over last year.

“I’m not familiar with the conference at all, but the girls are,” Rabat said. “We will be ready to play regardless of the opponent.”

The Panthers host Washington on Monday at 5:00 p.m., before taking on the Pack at home on March 29.

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