South Granville claims state 2-A softball title series berth
South Granville showed resilience, patience, defense and even a little power in Friday’s second game of the East Regional championship series of the state softball playoffs at South Lenoir.
The combination gave the Vikings an 11-9 victory and a berth in the state 2-A championship series.
Hunter Mundy, Savannah Tilley and Alease Daniel had three hits each for the Vikings (24-1), but it was a three-run homer by sophomore Erin Boone that put the score out of reach in the fifth inning.
“I was nervous, and I just knew that we needed to ... keep it going,” Boone said of the blast that gave the Vikings a 10-5 lead and capped a five-run rally in the fifth inning. “It just happened.”
Early on, the Blue Devils (22-5) had all the momentum, taking a 2-0 lead in the first and building it to 4-0 off South Granville starting pitcher Kasey Newcomb.
“Kasey has been my starting pitcher for three years,” South Granville coach Jackie Day said. “I’m not going to send her the wrong message by telling her I don’t trust her by pulling her early.
“She’s the one that got us here, so I’m going to stick with her as long as I can. She, along with the defense, is why we’re here. It’s about pitching.”
Meanwhile, the Vikings struggled against South Lenoir starter Taylor Sandlin, managing just one hit in each of the first three innings.
That changed in the top of the fourth, as Jenna Davis led off with a double and scored on a single by Mundy. Tilley followed with a single, and Karlee Michalina loaded the bases when she reached on an error.
Daniel ripped a two-run single, and Boone singled in another run before being thrown out attempting to take second as Michalina scored to tie the score 4-4. South Lenoir made a pitching change, but Newcomb’s two-out single drove in Daniel for a 5-4 South Granville lead.
But the advantage was brief, as Madison Herring singled in Hanna Meready before being thrown out while trying to advance to second to end the inning with the score again tied.
South Granville opened the fifth with back-to-back doubles by Davis and Mundy to regain the lead. A one-out single by Daniel drove in Mundy, and Brandi Celia’s hit was followed by Boone’s home run to right-center.
“We’ve been down a time or two,” Day said. “They bend a little bit, but they never break. They know how to fight.
“They know, when their back’s against the wall, what they’ve got to do to climb out of it, and I think they showed that tonight.”
Newcomb got a pair of outs in the fifth with a single by Brianna Williams sandwiched between. But then Beyer doubled and Anna Wetherington drew a walk before Newcomb hit Meredith Sanderson with a pitch to load the bases.
Day moved Davis from first base to the mound, with Newcomb taking over at first. South Lenoir added a pair of runs on a single by Meready to cut the margin to 10-8 through five innings.
Each team added a run in the sixth, with the Vikings getting a rocket of a home run to center by Herring to set the final margin.
The defensive gem of the night came when Vikings third baseman Megan Bowes gloved a line drive off the bat of Williams, then stepped on third to double off Morgan Mentz to prevent a run from scoring.
“It would have been easy to come out here and roll over when they got behind, but they didn’t,” Day said. “They scratched back. It’s seven innings; you’ve got to takes shots for seven innings.”
Both sides went three-up, three-down in the seventh, triggering the Vikings’ postgame celebration.
“I have a lot of emotions about it, Newcomb said. “This is my first year (in finals). Our team works well together, and I know that we can take it.
S. Granville 11, S. Lenoir 9
S. Granville 000 551 0 — 11
S. Lenoir 202 131 1 — 9
Kasey Newcomb, Jenna Davis (5) and Karlee Michalina; Taylor Sandlin, Mattie Beyer (4), Sandlin (6) and Brianna Williams. WP—Davis; LP—Beyer. Leading hitters—South Granville Erin Boone 2-5 (HR, 4 RBI), Davis 2-4 (2 runs), Hunter Mundy 3-3 (2 2B, 3 runs, RBI), Savannah Tilley 3-4 (run, RBI), Alease Daniel 3-3 (2 runs, 3 RBI); South Lenoir, Madison Herring 3-4 (HR), Morgan Mentz 2-4 (2B, 2 runs), Brianna Williams 2-4 (3 runs), Beyer 3-4 (2 2B, 5 RBI).