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North Johnston sweeps EPC’s top honors on the diamond

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A sweep of the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference Player of the Year honors headlined the end-of-season accolades for the North Johnston High softball and baseball teams after a pair of deep runs into the state playoffs. 

Amberlyn Pearce and Blayke Batten each captured a share of the conference’s top softball honor for the second time after leading the Panthers to an undefeated conference record (20-6 overall) for the second year in a row in 2019. The duo share the award for the second time after previously tying for the most votes in the conference in 2017. 

Both players contributed in different ways to make the Panthers strong on offense and defense.

From the pitching circle, Pearce, a senior, notched 11 wins under her belt. In 19 appearances she gave up a low 1.70 ERA . On top of that, she also added a .421 average from the plate, the best of her career. 

Meanwhile, Batten led all Panther hitters with an impressive .527 batting average on the season. She drove in 27 RBIs on 39 hits and proved to be the most consistent batter on the team in her junior campaign. 

Joining Batten and Pearce, Olivia Gachuz, Samantha Davis, Lindsey Massengill, Arial Pearce, Jordyn Scott and Hannah Wall were also named to the all-conference Team. At the team awards, Gachuz was named Most Improved, Jordyn Scott won Offensive MVP, Batten won Defensive MVP and Pearce took home the Coaches Award. 

The Panthers reached the fourth round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association playoffs this season before losing 6-5 to South Granville. A two-run home run by Massengill would have put the team up in the fifth inning, but the umpire called her out due to a rules violation. An appeal of the call was denied by the NCHSAA. 

Pitts stands out for Panthers

On the baseball diamond, a pitcher-hitter combination landed North Johnston junior Dylan Pitts recognition as the Eastern Plains Conference’s top player. 

With a .400 batting average, Pitts drove in 21 runs for the Panthers and had 24 hits. But for all he did on the offensive end, his play on the mound was what really set him apart. 

From the rubber, Pitts was the go-to pitcher for North Johnston. His arm accounted for nine wins and just one loss in 12 apperances. In 62.1 innings of work, Pitts also kept his ERA to a low 0.90. 

Tucker Batten, Seth Coats, Ty Narron and Avery Pearce joined Pitts on the all-conference baseball team. At the team awards, Austin Lee was named Most Improved and Llamar Ramirez won the Coaches Award. Batten and Narron each captured Offensive and Defensive MVP accolades, respectively.