As of now, East Rutherford (10-2, 8-2) and R-S Central (12-2, 9-2) baseball are still battling for second and third overall in conference play and for the first 2A seed in the SMAC. Central may have the pitching edge, but East is probably better from an offensive standpoint. Still, both are really good baseball teams as we get into the last 6 games or so of the regular season.
East Rutherford's girls soccer team is a solid third in the SMAC and threatening for second. R-S Central sits fourth, but injuries and tough losses have plagued them so far. They are in the mix which makes them interesting as the season winds down. Thomas Jefferson is in the Southern Piedmont 1A, but holding their own with an 8-3 record and third in the SPC. MacKenzie Hamrick (18 goals) leads the charge at TJCA.
However, softball this year has been the most confusing among SMAC play this spring. Let me try to illustrate this if I can.
R-S beat up on East Rutherford, R-S was held down by East Burke (8-4, 5-3) in a loss, East Burke lost by five runs to East Rutherford, Draughn has beaten East Rutherford (6-5, 4-5) by five runs, Shelby (first SMAC win) has beaten Chase (6-6, 5-6) and now Chase shelled Draughn (9-6, 5-6) by 11 runs.
Anybody get all of that? What we have learned is that no night is an easy one in conference play this season.
Despite the confusion, R-S Central (13-2, 10-1) softball continues to roll lately as they have won six in a row since being dealt a jaw dropping loss to East Burke at home. It's not that East Burke beat them, it's that East Burke held them to one run. The Lady Hilltoppers sit atop the board with a 2.5 game lead. Haley White and Madison Crain are solid pitchers, but their bats continued to impress. Everybody in this lineup can hit the ball and it wasn't quite like that a year ago. Senior, Taylor Koon leads with a fiery .528 batting average and they are hitting .312 as a team. Not too shabby!
East Rutherford has the youngest team, but they just picked up the biggest win of their season when they upset East Burke, 6-1. East Burke had won five in a row and were marching toward the top of conference until East Rutherford derailed that train. Thanks to Brooklyn Henderson, Jordan Gray and Biddy Sayre, they have finally gotten some confidence amongst their teammates to go out and just play ball.
Chase is starting to come around too. Freshman, Faith Harrill has done a spectacular job of pitching while ace Cassidy Pinkerton is almost ready to come back from injury. Maggie Robbins is also recovering from injury. Still, Makayla Gordon, Sam Craft and Brittney Bomer are all hitting at a .375 average or better.
What's sad is that four of the five 2A schools from the SMAC will likely make the playoffs. All five in reality should considering how wide open and tough the SMAC is this year. At this point, East Rutherford, Chase and Draughn are fighting for the last two spots. There is a ton of good coaching in the SMAC and if Draughn failed to make it, I'd hate for an outstanding senior in Jordan Hawk to go out like that.
Chase and East Rutherford are playing better though and if they continue, then I feel like they will make the playoffs. They will also be a tough out too.