Softball - Gaston knocks off neighboring Banks 6-2 in a non-conference softball affair
by: Tommy Whitcomb, Banks’ Amber Marston lays down a bunt during last Wednesday’s game against Gaston.

If Jerry Mettee gets his way, softball games between Banks and Gaston could become an annual occurrence.

Mettee, the current Gaston and former Banks head coach, got the teams together last year for a non-league affair between the 4A Lady Braves and 2A Lady Greyhounds. The clash between neighboring communities was such a success that he lined it up again this year and he's hoping it will take root as a local rivalry despite the difference in size classification.

'The advantage from our perspective is that we're playing up and we're playing a quality opponent,' Mettee said. 'You get some added interest since it's a cross-town opponent and that adds some emotion to the game.'

Banks won the first meeting between the teams last year, but Mettee's Gaston squad exacted revenge this time around, clipping the Lady Braves 6-2 last Wednesday.

Katrina Rios got the win for Gaston, striking out nine batters and allowing four hits in seven innings. Amber Marston took the loss for Banks, walking 17 and giving up six runs.

'Amber is a quality third baseman, but she stepped in and became their pitcher this year because they had nobody else,' Mettee said. 'To me, that's the definition of a true team player.'

Gaston had just five hits in the game, the biggest one a triple by sophomore Jessica Garner in the sixth inning.

'It's about learning to play in an environment where emotions are higher. You have to keep a level head and execute,' Mettee said. '[In the playoffs] last year we stepped into that kind of wide-eyed. The goal this year is to be prepared for that, and games like this can help us do that.'

Gaston will open Northwest League play this week against Knappa.

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