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Wildcats claw past Vikings in regional final

South Granville softball defeated in final game of best-of-three series

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CREEDMOOR For the first time since 2014 the South Granville softball team will not take part in the NCHSAA 2A championship series after losing to a talented Eastern Randolph squad.

The Lady Vikings lost 5-1 to the Lady Wildcats in the third game in the best-of-three series for the 2A Eastern regional title on May 24.

Eastern Randolph head coach LaVette Graham told his team to do whatever it took to win the game, and the Lady Wildcats showed they heard his message loud and clear.

Junior catcher Kelsey Craven put the Lady Wildcats on the board in the top of the second inning with a blast over the right field fence for a 1-0 lead.

South Granville looked poised to answer in the bottom of the frame with Renee Boone’s single to center field. Grace Calus followed with a single to move Boone to second, but South Granville left both runners on base at the end of the inning.

The game turned into a pitchers’ duel with Brooke Bowling for South Granville and Savannah Beaver going toe-to-toe in the circle. Both pitchers found their groove and kept hitters guessing at the plate.

The Eastern Randolph coaching staff kept telling the batters to watch the pitches and hit the ball. The bats began to crack in the top of the sixth inning for the Lady Wildcats.

Aniyah King started the inning with a single down the third-base line and Brooklyn Rush followed with a bunt to move the speedy King to third. Beaver doubled to drive in King for a 2-0 lead.

Craven then launched her second home run of the night for Eastern Randolph. The blast allowed Rush, Beaver and Craven to touch home plate for a 5-0 lead.

The window of opportunity was closing for South Granville and the Lady Vikings had to respond quickly. Ally Goss reached base on a fielder’s choice with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Goss was able to score on a single by Savannah Thompson. The Lady Vikings trimmed the lead to 5-1 after six innings of play.

South Granville held Eastern Randolph scoreless in the top of the seventh inning, but needed to score to mount a comeback.

Calus singled to start the inning, but South Granville could not move her beyond second base before the final out of the season was registered.

The Lady Vikings finished the season with a 18-4 record and Eastern Randolph advanced to play West Stanly in the 2A title series.

South Granville head coach Jackie Day expressed disappointment with the outcome but noted the fight the team showed all season.

“I sent them a message this morning, about doing something that your future self would be proud of and always remember. I received some good answers,” Day said. “It wasn’t about hitting a home run or their batting average, it was about the players they were playing with on this team. What excites me as a coach coming to practice every day and seeing the comradery and whooping it up.”

“We talked about adversity and picking your self back up and going back to work. We never quit and we did that with tact and diplomacy.”

Savannah Beaver picked up the win for Eastern Randolph. She saw 28 batters and struck out five. Brooke Bowling took the loss for the Lady Vikings. She worked against 31 batters and struck out three in the contest.

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

South Granville: Jordan Talley (1-for-2), Jenna Curry (1-for-4), Grace Calus (2-for-3), Renee Boone (1-for-3) and Savannah Thompson (1-for-3, RBI).