South Granville shoots for another state title
Only West Stanly High School (26-4) stands in the way of South Granville (24-1) and its eighth state softball championship when the teams meet tonight and Saturday in a best-of-three 2-A title series at Walnut Creek Softball Complex in Raleigh.
Game times are 7 p.m. today and 11 a.m. Saturday. If a decisive Game 3 is needed, it will be played at 2 p.m. Saturday.
That’s about the extent of South Granville coach Jackie Day’s knowledge.
West Stanly is a mystery to the Vikings mentor. The Colts do not post statistics or a roster online and since the West Regional champions played at the same time South Granville was chasing the East title, Day has had no opportunities to scout them.
“What I know is that they’re a well-coached team (and) ... obviously they have a good pitching staff,” Day said. “They wouldn’t be here if they’re not good. ... But that’s about all I know.”
Day said he doesn’t spend a lot of time worrying about the opposition. It’s not about West Stanly, he said, it’s about South Granville doing what it does best that will determine a champion.
“We’ve gotta be strong physically — and mentally tough,” Day said when asked about the Viking keys to winning the series. “We’ve got to play good defense. We’ve got to pitch well. We’ve got to make the the right decisions on the field and be decisive at the plate.
“If they do something that gets us out of our game plan, we’ll adjust.”
Day wasn’t at the South Granville helm in 1996 and 1998 when the Vikings won their most recent softball championships — their only championships in the fast-pitch era. The previous five came in slow pitch. Ironically, the victim in both fast-pitch finals’ wins was West Stanly.
Macy Webb, the Oakboro school’s conference player of the year, is a known commodity. A University of South Carolina softball signee, Webb is batting a remarkable .704 with seven home runs and 31 runs batted in and has an on-base percentage of .825.
South Granville is batting .420 as a team with four players with at least five home runs on the season. Kasey Newcomb is tops with seven, followed by Hunter Mundy (six) and Davis and Erin Boone (five each). Boone is the team’s top hitter for average, batting .541 with Davis (.523) and Alease Daniel (.522) right behind.
Davis, South Granville’s conference player of the year, leads the Vikings with 49 RBI and seven teammates have at least 23 RBI apiece — Mundy (35), Newcomb (32), Boone and Daniel (30), Taylor Boyd (29), Savannah Tilley (27) and Karlee Michalina (23).
Newcomb, the conference pitcher of the year, is the undisputed leader on the pitching mound, starting all but one of South Granville’s games this season and compiling a record of 22-1. Boone is 1-0 and Davis 1-0.
On the year, Newcomb has thrown 132 innings, Davis nine and Boone four, but Davis has been used frequently in the playoffs, relieving Newcomb after a couple of trips through the lineup to keep the opposition off-balance.
Davis has an earned-run average of 0.78 and Newcomb 1.59. Boone hasn’t allowed an earned run all season.
Pitching as many as three seven-inning games in two days sounds like a daunting task — at least to those more familiar with baseball than fast-pitch softball — but Day said Newcomb would be up to it if needed.
“(Arm fatigue’s) not much of a factor,” Day said, referring to softball’s underhand delivery. “The (shoulder) joint’s unlocking in a natural motion (as opposed to baseball’s overhand motion).
While Newcomb was the pitcher who got the Vikings here, Day’s not averse to using Davis this weekend.
“Jenna’s certainly up to the task,” he said. “If necessary, she’ll make a start.”
NOTES — Fans attending this weekend’s games will have a unique opportunity to catch four state championship softball games at the same time, at least for Games 1 and 2. The Walnut Creek complex will host all four — 1-A, 2-A, 3-A and 4-A — state title series and the the games will be played concurrently on fields set up as a wheel surrounding a central seating area ... The park is at 1201 Sunnybrook Road, Raleigh, just off the I-440 Beltline in East Raleigh. ... Day reported no Vikings injuries. “Everybody’s healthy, but even if they weren’t, they probably wouldn’t tell me — they all want to play so bad,” Day said. ... A per-car parking fee will be charged at the gate in addition to game tickets.