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GAME 1: Lady Vikings survive pitchers’ duel

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CREEDMOOR — South Granville and Eastern Randolph battled for 5 1/2 scoreless innings before the Lady Vikings managed to score two runs in the home half of the sixth inning. The Lady Vikings would hold that lead and defeat the Lady Wildcats 2-0 in the first game of their regional round matchup in the NCHSAA 2A playoffs on May 21.

South Granville’s Brooke Bowling and Eastern Randolph’s Savannah Beaver combined to allow only seven hits and one walk during the first game of the best-of-three series. Bowling struck out 11 Wildcats while Beaver fanned five Lady Vikings.

Eastern Randolph threatened to score in the first inning with Brooklyn Rush sending a ball to right field. McKenzie Chamberlain stopped the ball on one hop and fired back to the infield to hold Rush at first. The Lady Wildcats left her stranded at the end of the inning.

Rush again made noise with her bat in the top of the fourth inning on a single and was moved to second by Beaver’s sacrifice bunt. Once again Rush was left on base for the Lady Wildcats.

South Granville was poised to score in the bottom of the fifth inning with Renee Boone starting the rally with one out. Grace Calus singled to second base for the Lady Vikings. Megan Ellis followed with a single to load the bases.

That opportunity was squandered, however, as two infield hits led to a pair of fielder’s choice outs. The contest would remain scoreless.

Aniyah King, a switch-hitting senior for Eastern Randolph, bunted her way on in the top of the sixth inning. King stole second to move into scoring position with one out. Rush could not move King after a strikeout and Beaver hit a ball in the hole behind third base. King already rounded third and was heading home, but it would be all for naught, as Paige Strickland made a diving catch for the third out.

The pressure was on South Granville to make something happen in the bottom of the sixth inning. Jordan Talley reached first on an Eastern Randolph error. Strickland hit a chopper over the first baseman’s head to move Talley to third. Strickland ended up on second at the end of the play. The Lady Vikings broke the scoreless tie after Ally Goss blasted a double that scored Talley and Strickland to put South Granville on top 2-0.

The Lady Vikings were close to adding to their lead when Savannah Thompson hit a ball to shallow center field that one-hopped in front of King. Goss rounded third and headed for home. A perfect throw from King cut down Goss at the plate to keep the score at 2-0.

However, the defensive play was wasted after the Lady Wildcats went down in order in the top of the seventh inning. The Lady Vikings captured the first tilt in the best-of-three series by a 2-0 margin.

“They are a great team and they have a very good pitcher,” South Granville head coach Jackie Day said. “We did what it takes to win and there are no easy wins now.”

Brooke Bowling was the winning pitcher for the Lady Vikings. She faced 25 Lady Wildcats and allowed three hits and struck out 11 batters.

Statistics: Paige Strickland (1-for-3), Renee Boone (1-for-3), Ally Goss (1-for-3, 2 RBIs, 2B) and Savannah Thompson (1-for-3).