0507 playoffs

Draughn's Kira Suttles (right) receives instruction from Lady Wildcats softball coach Chris Cozort during Thursday night's Northwestern Foothills 2A Athletic Conference tournament championship game versus Foard at Morganton's Catawba Meadows Park.

Three local high school sports teams earned playoff berths as the NCHSAA released brackets for baseball, softball and girls soccer.

The Draughn softball team earned the highest seed locally, drawing the No. 13 spot in the 2A West bracket to secure the only home game in the county. The Patton girls soccer team earned a No. 19 draw in 2A West, and Freedom baseball was awarded the No. 24 slot in the 3A West tournament.

All three teams will commence the state playoffs on Tuesday evening.

The Lady Wildcats (15-5) are coming off a second-place finish in the Northwestern Foothills 2A Athletic Conference this season, along with a runner-up finish in last week’s league tournament. They will play host to conference foe Hibriten (18-6), which earned the No. 20 seed, at 6 p.m. on Tuesday night.

The squads faced off in the semifinals of the NWFAC tourney on Thursday night in Morganton, with Draughn taking a 13-0 mercy-rule win in five innings. In the regular season, the Wildcats won 12-9 in Valdese on March 22 and 4-2 in Lenoir on April 15.

With a win on Tuesday night, Draughn would advance to either visit No. 4 North Lincoln (19-2) or host No. 29 Bandys (12-12) in Friday’s second round. This is the Wildcats’ fourth straight playoff berth following a 1-0 first-round loss at Ledford a season ago.

The Lady Panthers (17-5), who finished third in the NWFAC this season, will seek to continue the winningest season in girls soccer program history when they travel to King to visit No. 14 West Stokes (12-5) at 6 p.m. on Tuesday night. The teams do not share any common opponents this season.

After a multiyear absence from the postseason, Patton is in the playoffs for a second straight season. The Panthers bowed out in the opening round last year with a 6-1 loss at Salisbury.

A victory on Tuesday night would send Patton either to a visit to Wilkesboro to face No. 3 Wilkes Central (19-0) or to a second-round home game versus No. 30 Madison (7-6-1).

Freedom (16-10) is back in the baseball playoffs for the first time since 2016 after putting together its most successful season this decade. The Patriots will make the trip to Asheville to face No. 9 T.C. Roberson (19-5) at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night.

The Patriots finished fourth in the Northwestern 3A/4A Conference this season, third-best among the league’s 3A squads. Freedom and the Rams have not faced any common opponents this year. With a victory on Tuesday evening, the Patriots either travel to visit No. 8 Southwest Guilford (18-7) or host No. 25 North Buncombe (11-10) in the second round.

Freedom’s most recent state postseason appearance three years ago ended with a 10-1 first-round loss in China Grove to Jesse Carson.

Justin Epley can be reached at jepley@morganton.com or 828-432-8943.

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