Ansley Smith looks forward to state playoff series, but not for the obvious reasons.
Naturally, she likes the pressure and thrill of the situation.
But the Northgate senior really enjoys facing unfamiliar opponents who don’t know her well enough to pitch around her.
“It’s my favorite, so I can get my good pitch,” the University of Kentucky recruit said of her first plate appearance or two in any given series. “I don’t have to wait around and get pitched around or get walked all the time.”
A pair of line-drive home runs from Smith in the opener and a pair of strong pitching performances by Ashley Clifton, including a no-hitter, lifted Northgate, out of Newnan, to a two-game sweep – 5-0 and 8-0 – of Evans on Wednesday in the second round of the Class AAAA state softball playoffs.
The Vikings (22-6) won Game 2 by the run rule in five innings. They took out the Knights in the same round at the same venue last season.
Evans and starter Tiffany Sellers fell behind 3-0 in Game 1 before the Knights (24-11) even stepped into the batter’s box for the first time. Smith’s two-run shot was part of the first-inning flurry.
Evans coach Colette Cassedy said this is one of the best-hitting teams she’s coached. On Wednesday, the Knights’ bats couldn’t find holes in the Vikings’ defense.
“We faced a good pitcher,” Cassedy said. “I think the second game, we were able to see her better after seeing her the first game.
“We were hitting it, but happened to be hitting it at them.”