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CREEDMOOR — Renee Boone’s biggest hit of the season could not have come at a better time for the South Granville softball team.
Down one run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning in a fourth-round playoff game, Boone delivered with a clutch walk-off double to propel the Lady Vikings past North Johnston 6-5 on May 17.
The victory clinched South Granville’s spot in the final four of the NCHSAA 2A playoffs.
“I knew I had to come through for my team and I knew we were not going out like that,” Boone said.
During the winning at-bat, Boone made solid contact on a pitch and forced Ariel Pearce, the center fielder for the Lady Panthers, to drift back to try to get under the ball.
Jordan Talley, who bunted her way on base, and Ally Goss, who drew a walk, were off at the crack of the bat. The ball landed inches from the top of the fence and bounced to the ground as the Lady Vikings commenced celebrating.
“They (North Johnston) are a tough team and you can take nothing away from them, but Renee (Boone) stepped up, it was her turn,” South Granville head coach Jackie Day said after the win.
Jenna Curry scored the first run of the game after hitting a leadoff double. Talley laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Curry to third. Paige Strickland followed with a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Curry from third to give the Lady Vikings an early 1-0 lead.
North Johnston took the lead back in the third inning with Hannah Wall and Ariel Pearce scoring, but the Lady Panthers stranded two runners at the end of the inning.
The game between the two powers featured some controversy in the top of the fifth inning. The Lady Panthers looked as if they picked up two runs in the inning with Pearce and Lindsey Massingill scoring, but Massingill appeared to be touched by another player before crossing home plate on the home run.
Day told pitcher Brooke Bowling to appeal the play. Bowling tossed the ball to Savannah Thompson as the appeal was made. Massingill was called out, thus negating her run.
North Johnston coaches and fans expressed their disapproval with the call, but the Lady Panthers shook it off and continued to play hard.
Trailing 3-1, South Granville had to search for some offense and found it in the bottom of the fifth inning. Megan Ellis rocked a double to start the inning, then Brooke Bowling hit the ball to the right side of the field to score Ellis. Curry and Paige Strickland both reached base on a fielder’s choice and Thompson pushed them in with a single. The Lady Vikings regained a 4-3 lead heading to the sixth inning.
Blayke Batten tied the score at 4-all with a solo shot in the top of the sixth inning and starting pitcher, Amberlynn Pearce, put the Lady Panthers back on top with a solo home run in the top of the seventh inning.
That set the stage for Boone’s heroics in the bottom of the frame.
“We talked to the team about buckling down a little more because the teams we are playing are getting better, but the main thing is to have some fun,” Day said. “It’s up to them, we can teach them and we can coach them, but you just have to keep fighting through it.”
North Johnston finished the season with a 20-6 record while the Lady Vikings moved on to the 2A East Regional to play a best-of-three series against Ramseur’s Eastern Randolph. The Wildcats entered the series with a 22-4 record.
The first game of the series started Tuesday.
Brooke Bowling was the winning pitcher for the Lady Vikings. She faced 31 batters and struck out four Lady Panthers.
Statistics — Jordan Talley (2-for-3), Jenna Curry (1-for-4, 2B), Paige Strickland (1-for-2, RBI), Renee Boone (1-for-4, 2 RBIs, 2B), Megan Ellis (2-for-3, 2B), Savannah Thompson (1-for-4, 2 RBIs) and Brooke Bowling (2-for-2, RBI).