South Granville High School has won a lot of state championships in softball, nine to be exact. And when they’ve won state championships, they’ve usually come in pairs.
Now the Vikings have a shot for three in a row, which would be a school record, as they take on Parkwood in the NCHSAA 2A championship series beginning on Friday (7:30 p.m.) at UNC Greensboro.
South Granville won back-to-back titles twice during the slow-pitch era and with last season’s title, it gave the Vikings two straight championships for the third time.
South Granville coach Jackie Day said each season is different and a journey of its own.
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“They’ve worked hard, the kids have improved themselves,” Day said. “It’s been one pitch at a time and one game at a time. We’ve made the adjustments along the way.”
The Vikings (26-0) also have a win over Orange, which itself is playing for the 3A title, as part of their undefeated season.
But there has been one consistent component for the last three title runs — senior pitcher Miranda Barker.
“Absolutely,” Day said. “She’s pitched well and plays her position as well as anyone. And in the playoffs, when everybody you play is better, she’s been good. She’s pitched as well this year as any other year.”
Barker has recorded 12 shutouts and pitched two perfect games this season, including one in the first round of the playoffs, a 14-0, five-inning victory over Southwest Onslow. Her second-round effort was an 8-0 shutout of Bartlett Yancey.
South Granville has gone 93-7 during the past four seasons with Barker getting a majority of the pitching work. South Granville, which has two other seniors – Abbi Colclough and Taylor Walker – had to replace four departing players from last season’s squad.
Day said addition of five freshmen – Jordan Tally, Emma Jones, Grace Calus, Renee Boone and Ally Goss – went as smoothly as he could have expected.
“We’re starting four freshmen, including three on the infield,” Day said. “They came in and were surrounded by other players who have big-game experience. I think they’ve stepped right in. Last year everyone already had the big-game experience and it wasn’t that much of a learning curve for them at all.”
Junior catcher Megan White, who was the MVP in last season’s title series, returned to be South Granville’s leading power hitter with 10 home runs. But the Vikings, who hit .481 as a team, can hit for average with six players batting better than .500, including Barker’s team-best .609 average and 49 RBIs.
Parkwood (25-2) is entering the title series on a hot streak, too. It has won 17 in a row after sweeping Madison County for the West Region title. Parkwood is making its deepest run in playoffs and is playing in the championship series for the first time.
Junior pitcher Carolina Ruth (22-2) has recorded 226 strikeouts and has posted a 1.00 ERA for the Rebels. Sarah Harkis is Parkwood’s leading hitter (.480) and she had three of her team’s 24 home runs, while their best power hitter is Baylee Morton, who has eight home runs.