CARTHAGE — It shouldn’t have been any surprise that Jenna Greene finished the game the way she started it — striking out a Dunn batter.
Greene totaled 13 strikeouts while hurling a complete game two-hitter to lead the Rockingham Ponytails to a 2-1 victory over Dunn Saturday afternoon in the first round of the Dixie Softball state tournament in Carthage.
Rockingham coach Matt Liles had a strategy of using three pitchers two innings each. That plan went out the window after Greene opened the game by retiring six of the first seven batters she faced, five by strike out. The only batter to reach safely during the first two innings was Kala Cooney, who walked with two outs in the first.
“Why change?,” Liles said when asked about keeping Greene in the game. “You might make a change and lose.”
Greene also provided a herself with a little offensive support with a run-scoring single in the bottom of fourth. That run turned out to be the game-winning run.
The story of the contest was the pitching duel between Greene and three Dunn pitchers — Caroline Marshall, Brie Adams and Gracyn Slaughter.
The trio limited Rockingham to five hits and issued one walk. But those hits came in bunches and led to both runs.
Jadyn Johnson open the bottom of the first with a bunt single. Ragan Liles followed with a sacrifice bunt. On the play, Johnson raced around to third after no Dunn player was covering the base after Ragan Liles’ bunt. Savanna Barber drove Johnson home with a single. Greene added a single of her own to put runners on first and second with one out. But Rockingham was unable to add anymore runs as Marshall recorded a strikeout and got Madison Jordan to foul out to end the frame.
Rockingham added its final run of the game in the fourth with two singles and a wild pitch. With one out, Ragan Liles singled and moved to second on a wild pitch. After fly out to center, Greene chased home Ragan Liles with a single. Greene was later called out after not returning to the base after the pitcher received the ball in the circle.
That same call earlier in the game stymied a Dunn rally in the fourth. Marshall reached on an error to open the inning. After a strikeout, Zoie Starling attempted to sacrifice Marshall into scoring position, but was ruled safe when the throw pulled the fielder off first. Starling was then ruled out on the baserunning call and Kala Cooney struck out.
Dunn’s only run came an inning later as J.J. Sankey singled, moved to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a single by Slaughter.
Rockingham will face Lumberton 2:15 p.m. today in the second round. The winner will on the victor of the Hoke County-West Brunswick at 6:30 p.m. Monday. The loser will take on the winner of the Bogar City-Fuquay Varina contest in an elimination contest at 3:30 p.m. Monday.
Rockingham Blue elimination
HIGH POINT — Rockingham Blue lost its second consecutive game to be eliminated for the Pony League Pinto East Zone tournament.
Western Branch Gold defeated Rockingham Blue 25-18 Saturday afternoon.