With the score knotted up in Game 1 of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A softball championship best-of-three series, South Granville junior second baseman Abbi Colclough stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the seventh in search of a big hit.
Despite going hitless in her first three plate appearances, Colclough singled up the middle and sophomore catcher Megan White beat the throw to home plate as South Granville earned a 5-4 walk-off win over West Lincoln on Friday at the UNC-Greensboro Spartans’ Softball Complex.
The 2015 NCHSAA champion, South Granville (25-1) is now only one win away from raising the trophy for a second consecutive year.
Despite her previous struggles at the plate, Colclough remained confident as she worked a long at-bat against West Lincolnton sophomore relief pitcher Adison Rhyne and felt like the weight off the world was lifted off her shoulders when the ball got past the infield.
"I was like, ‘Thank God,’" Colclough said when talking about her game-winning hit. "Finally, I got a hit."
With only one out and White on second, South Granville coach Walter Day considered having Colclough lay down a bunt. He thought better of that and is now happy he did.
"We could have bunted her, but what message am I sending? Although she was 0-3, we trust what she’s doing," Day said.
The single marked the end of what was a back-and-forth contest that featured multiple lead changes in the final few innings.
The Vikings trailed by two runs heading into the bottom of the fifth, before they exploded for four runs thanks to a West Lincoln (25-3) fielding error and a two-run home run by White.
But South Granville’s newfound lead didn’t prove to be enough as West Lincoln sophomore second baseman Jessica Adams gave her team new life with one out in the top of the seventh thanks to a two-run home run of her own.
Admittedly, the Vikings were a bit flustered when the Rebels pulled even, but ultimately kept their composure.
"I think we got a little nervous, but we know just to push through it and just keep fighting because our bats would take care of us," Colclough said.
Despite giving up four runs, Day thought South Granville junior pitcher Miranda Baker did an adequate job on the mound. The Vikings’ go-to pitcher throughout the year, Baker kept South Granville in the game despite its poor start on offense and was able to work out of jams on several occasions.
"She’s in control. Nothing affects her," Day said. "She knows how to play the game."
While South Granville dropped its first game of last year’s championship series, it goes into Saturday with more confidence and room for error.
"It’s huge. Plus, it takes the pressure of us," Day said. "We can be a bit more relaxed tomorrow."
Game 2 of the 2A softball championship is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. Saturday at UNC-Greensboro, this time with South Granville batting first as the visiting team. If necessary, Game 3 will be played at 5 p.m. Saturday.