Heartbreaker: S. Granville falls in 2-A state title series finale
South Granville’s quest for an eighth state softball title ended in a barrage of errors Saturday, West Stanly coming back from a 3-0 third-inning deficit for the second straight game and sweeping the best-of-three 2-A title series two games to none.
West Stanly scored a pair of unearned runs in both the fourth and sixth innings — helped by three South Granville errors in each — to pick up the 4-3 title clinching win at Walnut Creek Softball Complex.
The champion Colts did it despite managing just two hits — both singles — one off South starter Kasey Newcomb, the other off reliever Jenna Davis.
“The girls fought as hard as they could fight,” South Granville coach Jackie Day said. “They never gave up. They scratched and clawed to the end. ... It’s been a great experience for them. ... We just came up a little short.”
South Granville, as it did Friday night, jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third inning. Erin Boone led off the game with an infield hit and scored two outs later when rightfielder Kelsey Pardini dropped Davis’ popup in short right after calling off second baseman Samantha Lowder.
Savannah Tilley tripled and scored on an RBI ground out by Alease Daniels in the second to stretch the lead to 2-0 and the Vikings made it 3-0 in the top of the third when Newcomb tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Davis.
South had a chance to pad the lead in the top of the fourth, but stranded Tilley at third after she led off with a double.
Newcomb, who faced the minimum nine batters over the first three innings in Friday night’s series-opening 8-5 loss before giving up seven runs over the next 1 2/3, was perfect through three innings Saturday but again ran into trouble in the fourth.
The Colts’ Maddie Brown led off with a single to right, the first player to reach base against Newcomb, and Newcomb’s high throw to first on a sacrifice bunt attempt allowed Allison Swaringen to reach safely. Newcomb then wild-pitched the runners to second and third and a second wild pitch plated Brown.
That was it for Newcomb, who exchanged places with first baseman Davis.
An error by shortstop Taylor Boyd allowed a second run to score, cutting the lead to 3-2, and West loaded the bases on a walk and the third South error of the inning, but Davis got out of the jam when she coaxed a comebacker off the bat of Pardini and forced Macey Webb at the plate.
While the Viking bats went quiet — series MVP Savannah Blalock (22-3) retired 12 of the final 13 batters she faced — West Stanly broke through with the winning runs in the bottom of the sixth on only a normally harmless single.
With one out, West’s .700 hitter, Webb, reached on an error for the third time in two games. Brennan Broadaway then reached on an error that sent Webb to third. Broadaway took second on catcher’s indifference and Davis looked like she might escape again when she retired Blalock on a fly to center. But Walker Barbee’s two-out, line single to right plated the tying and winning runs.
In the end, Davis (1-1) took the hard-luck loss despite giving her teammates the opportunity to nail down six outs in the inning.
“We said before the game that we weren’t going to point fingers, no matter what happened,” Day said, when asked about the errors. “We are a team. If we had another game to play, I’d’ve been proud to put the same lineup right back on the field.
“To win this game, we should’ve hit better, scored more runs as a team — AND played better defense.”
Blalock retired the Vikings in order in the seventh to clinch the title. West had lost two previous state fast-pitch title showdowns to South Granville — 1996 and 1998. South Granville had won five state slow-pitch titles before the dawn of the fast-pitch era.
“At the beginning of the season, who’d’a thought ...,” West Stanly coach Wesley Kidd said to his team after the game. “We’ve finally accomplished something that had eluded us all these years. ... God has given you talent as individuals, but you didn’t win as individuals. You won as a team. You ARE a team. That’s the highest compliment I can give you.”
Day, who was coaching in his first state title series, said the Vikings had no reason to hang their heads.
“The girls are still winners,” he said. “Look at what they accomplished. ... There are 110 or 112 2-A teams in the state and a couple thousand kids playing on those teams that didn’t get here. We did.”
NOTES — Voyager Academy baseball coach Pete Shankle, who’d missed VA’s elimination game in the state semifinals a week earlier for an undisclosed medical issue, was on hand to watch South Granville Saturday. His stepson dates Day’s daughter. Shankle said his health emergency — a kidney stone that caused infection and a shutdown of kidney function — had proven extremely serious, but that while he was still under a doctor’s care, his prognosis appears bright. ... Shankle also announced that star Voyager righthanded pitcher Chad Sykes, a junior, has verbally committed to UNC Greensboro.
NCHSAA 2-A Championship
West Stanly 4, South Granville 3
(West Stanly wins series 2-0)
South Granville ab r h rbi
Erin Boone 2b 3 1 1 0
Kasey Newcomb p-1b 3 1 1 0
Taylor Boyd ss 3 0 1 0
Jenna Davis 1b-p 2 0 0 1
Hunter Mundy lf 3 0 0 0
Savannah Tilley cf 3 1 2 0
Karlee Michalina c 3 0 0 0
Alease Daniels dh 3 0 0 1
Brandi Celia rf 2 0 0 0
Totals 25 3 5 2
* Flex player (does not bat), Megan Bowes, 3b.
West Stanly ab r h rbi
Maddie Brown cf 3 1 1 0
Allison Swaringen 3b 3 1 0 0
Samantha Lowder 2b 3 0 0 0
Macey Webb 1b 3 0 0 0
Hannah Pressley cr 0 1 0 0
Brennan Broadaway ss 3 1 0 0
Savannah Blalock p 2 0 0 0
Walker Barbee c 3 0 0 0
Kelsey Pardini rf 2 0 1 0
Catherine Morgan dh 3 0 0 0
Totals 25 4 2 0
* Flex player (does not bat), Reagan Thomas, lf.
# Courtesy runner Hannah Pressley scored for Webb in the sixth inning.
South Granville 111 000 0 — 3 5 6
West Stanly 000 202 x — 4 2 1
E—Pardini, Newcomb, Bowes 3, Boyd 2. LOB—S. Granville 4, W. Stanly 5. 2B—Tilley. 3B—Tilley, Newcomb. SF—Davis.
West Stanly IP H R ER SO BB
Savannah Blalock (W, 22-3) 7 5 3 2 4 1
South Granville IP H R ER SO BB
Kasey Newcomb 3 1 2 0 3 0
Jenna Davis (L, 1-1) 3 1 2 0 2 1
Newcomb pitched to two batters in fourth inning.
Inherited runners-scored—Davis 2-2. Wild pitches—Newcomb 2.
Records: West Stanly 28-4, South Granville 24-3.