The Easter tournament, which begins begins March 30 and ends April 2, includes all of the county’s baseball and softball programs along with Westover and West Bladen this season.
Coaches from the participating schools voted on the seeds using a point system. A first-place nomination received a maximum of eight points, second-place votes got seven points, and so on.
The Pirates, despite a 1-6 record thus far, received a top seed with four first-place votes. The Lady Knights (7-0) were a near unanimous choice as the best team on the softball side. Since 2002, the Pirates have played in seven of the last 10 Slugfest championship games, winning six of them.
This season, however, early injuries have kept Lumberton from hitting its stride. Staff ace Justice Sampson made his first appearance of the season Friday against Pinecrest, pitching into the sixth inning of a 4-1 loss and catcher Daniel Oxendine has missed the last two games with knee.
Coach Paul Hodges didn’t make excuses Monday and said this year’s tournament is wide open.
“Records are always kind of thrown out the window in the Slugfest,” Hodges said. “It’s all about pitching matchups and who matches up with who.”
Red Springs, the county’s only remaining unbeaten baseball team, is a No. 6 seed battling host and third-seeded Swett in the opening round. First-year coach Bryan McDonald and the Rams (4-4) have won three straight games.
Letting participating coaches determine seeding has taken pressure off of Robeson County Athletic Director Jason Suggs.
“It’s on the coaches to see how everyone is doing to give accurate seeds,” Suggs said. “They get to see most of the teams play.”
In addition, Suggs said Slugfest officials have decided to nix the seventh-place game.
“We wanted to be consistent with the Shootout and since we stopped playing them there, we didn’t want to continue the seventh-place game here,” Suggs said.
SLUGFEST SCHEDULE (all games at Purnell Swett High)
Quarterfinal games on March 30
No. 1 Lumberton vs. No. 8 Westover, 10 a.m.; No. 4 South Robeson vs. No. 5 St. Pauls, 1 p.m.; No. 2 Fairmont vs. No. 7 West Bladen, 4; No. 3 Purnell Swett vs. No. 6 Red Springs, 7
No. 1 West Bladen vs. No. 8 Westover, 10 a.m.; No. 4 South Robeson vs. No. 5 St. Pauls, 1 p.m.; No. 3 Lumberton vs. No. 6 Fairmont, 4; No. 2 Purnell Swett vs. No. 7 Red Springs, 7