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GAME 2: Late-game heroics save Wildcats’ season

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RAMSEUR The Eastern Randolph Lady Wildcats dashed South Granville’s dreams of celebrating on their opponent’s home field after a walkoff 9-8 win in the second game of the 2A Eastern regional final on May 23.

Courtnee Carter’ walkoff hit prevented the Lady Vikings from advancing to the NCHSAA 2A championship series while keeping the Lady Wildcats’ season alive for at least one more game.

Though the Lady Wildcats needed to come back in the seventh inning, they initially jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning with Savannah Beaver sending Carter, the leadoff batter, home on a double up the middle. Kelsey Craven then followed with a home run deep over the left field fence.

South Granville responded after Ally Goss started the top of the next inning with a triple before scoring on a sacrifice by Savannah Thompson. Renee Boone hit a shot up the middle for a single, but the Lady Vikings left her stranded at first.

South Granville had opportunities to break the game open in the third inning with Jenna Curry starting the rally with a one-out double. Jordan Talley bunted to move Curry to third, but the Lady Vikings could not advance Curry or Talley.

The Lady Vikings squandered another opportunity to score in the top of the fifth inning, but Eastern Randolph took full advantage of their chances in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Carter led off the inning with a walk and Aniyah King singled to move Carter into scoring position. Brooklyn Rush hit a shot to right field to score Carter and King. Rush ended up on third and scored on a fielder’s choice hit by Beaver. The Lady Wildcats built a 6-1 lead going into the top of the sixth inning.

The five-run deficit seemed to finally wake the South Granville bats. Boone started the one-out rally for South Granville with a single and Grace Calus followed with a single to push Boone to second. Bailey Nelson took one for the team as Beaver hit her on the thigh with a fastball to load the bases.

Brooke Bowling help herself in the circle with a double to clear the bases for the Lady Vikings. Kaitlyn Goss then came in as the pinch runner for Bowling. Curry’s hit sent Goss to third. Talley tapped a ball right by second base to score Goss and keep the inning alive. Ally Goss stepped up to hit with two outs and two on base. Goss sent the ball out of the left fielder’s reach to send Curry and Talley home.

After the dust settled the Lady Vikings grabbed the 7-6 lead with an inning and a half left to play.

The Lady Wildcats went quietly in the bottom of the sixth inning, but South Granville scored again in the top of the seventh inning.

Calus singled with one out. She then stole second to move into scoring position. Bowling again came up big with the bat as she blasted a single to score Calus for the Lady Vikings and extend the lead to 8-6.

The game and the series rested on Eastern Randolph’s shoulders in the bottom of the seventh inning. Beaver started the inning with a walk and Craven singled to put the winning run at the plate. Olivia Hall’s clutch single to center field sent Beaver and Craven home to tie the game at 8-all.

Carter then stepped to the plate with two outs and runners in scoring position. She connected on a pitch and drove the ball to right field, forcing South Granville’s McKenzie Chamberlain to dive for the ball. She appeared to make the snow cone catch only to have the ball trickle out of her glove as Jessica McNeil crossed the plate for the 9-8 Eastern Randolph victory.

Savannah Beaver was the winning pitcher. She faced 37 batters and struck out seven in the contest. Brooke Bowling dropped her third decision of the year. Bowling faced 37 batters, issued five walks and struck out two Lady Wildcats.

Statistics Eastern Randolph: Aniyah King (1-for-2), Courtnee Carter (2-for-4, RBI), Savannah Beaver (2-for-3, 2 RBIs, 2B), Brooklyn Rush (1-for-4, 2 RBIs, 3B), Kelsey Craven (3-for-4, 2 RBIs, 2B, HR) and Olivia Hall (2-for-4, 2 RBIs, 2B).

South Granville: Jordon Talley (1-for-4, RBI), Jenna Curry (3-for-5, 2B), Paige Strickland (1-for-4), Grace Calus (2-for-4, 2B), Renee Boone (2-for-4), Ally Goss (2-for-4, 2 RBIs, 2B, 3B), Savannah Thompson (1-for-3, RBI) and Brooke Bowling (2-for-4, 4 RBIs, 2B).