Like any defending state champion, the South Granville softball team entered the 2016 season with a target on its back.
Nobody could knock the Vikings from their top spot, though.
For the second time in as many years, South Granville’s season ended with a state championship trophy presentation as it defeated West Lincoln 10-5 in Game 3 of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A championship best-of-three series on Saturday at the UNC-Greensboro Spartans Softball Complex.
The win capped off what was a magical year for the Vikings. Coach Walter Day’s team lost only twice and didn’t succumb to the pressure of having to defend last season’s state title. Instead, South Granville (26-2) embraced the challenge. Throughout the season, they believed a repeat of 2015’s championship was achievable. That vision became a reality on Saturday.
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“Everybody returned but two and I had one freshman, so everybody else on the field was here last year. So yeah, it was achievable,” Day said. “They believed it and they wanted it.”
Sophomore catchera Megan White, who scored the game-winning run in Game 1, was named the series MVP after going 6-11 at the plate over the weekend with two home runs and three extra-base hits.
Earlier in the day, the Vikings had a chance to secure the state title, but were held scoreless by West Lincoln in Game 2 as the Rebels earned a four-run win to force a decisive third game.
Not demoralized by its poor performance in the day’s first contest, South Granville bounced back and put together its best performance of the series when it needed it the most.
“We all kind of got down on ourselves in the second game and we realized that our errors were more mental errors,” White said. “Because we knew how to play. We just weren’t ready. So, we all went to Chick-fil-A and we had a good team meal. We all loosened up and realized that we could do this.”
Junior pitcher Miranda Barker, who pitched every inning for South Granville in 2016, was far from perfect, but the Vikings’ ace picked up her 23rd victory of the season as she struck out three batters and stranded nine baserunners.
“That’s a strong kid,” White said of Barker. “There’s no quit in her. It’s all about willpower and making the pitches.”
While the Vikings only put together three hits in Game 2, they responded with 12 in the series finale and exploded for eight runs in the second inning. South Granville recorded six-consecutive two-out hits in the second as it batted around.
Junior second baseman Abbi Colclough hit two doubles in the inning, scoring twice, while junior pitcher Miranda Baker, senior center fielder Savannah Tilley, sophomore left fielder Brianne Coleman and senior shortstop Hunter Mundy each drove in runs with hits, as well.
Trailing by seven runs after two innings, West Lincoln (26-4) methodically chipped away at South Granville’s lead, eventually cutting the deficit down to to three runs after scoring twice in both the third and sixth innings. However, that was as close as the Rebels would come.
White, who provided South Granville with a pair of insurance runs with her second two-run home run of the weekend in bottom of the sixth, said winning it all again was just as satisfying as last year’s run to glory.
“They’re both equally exciting,” she said. “It’s a blessing to be able come back, but I’m very excited this year, as well.”
Game 2, West Lincoln 4, South Granville 0: South Granville entered Game 2 of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A softball championship best-of-three series against West Lincoln on Saturday with a chance to earn its second state title for the second straight season.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, theyll now have to win a decisive Game 3 in order to achieve that feat after dropping Game 2 4-0 against the Rebels.
The series rubber match is scheduled to begin at 5:00 p.m. at the UNC-Greensboro Spartans Softball Complex following the conclusion of Game 2 of the NCHSAA 3A championship best-of-three series between C.B. Aycock and Enka.
Runs were hard to find for South Granville as the Vikings struggled against West Lincoln senior pitcher Cassidy Wise, who earned the win.
Going the distance, Wise surrendered only three hits, struck out four batters and stranded four baserunners.
While South Granville had a rough go of it on offense, the Vikings trailed by only one run for much of the day, but West Lincoln tacked on three more runs off of South Granville junior pitcher Miranda Barker in the bottom of the fifth on a double by freshman center fielder Kinsley Gilmore and back-to-back singles by sophomore shortstop Carson Warlick and sophomore second baseman Jessica Adams.
While chances to score were scarce for South Granville, the Vikings nearly pulled even in the top of the third when as sophomore left fielder Brianne Coleman tagged up from second base and made her way home following a bad throw to third base by Gilmore. However, it was ruled that Coleman left second base too early when tagging and was called out.
The loss was South Granvilles first since falling to Bunn 1-0 on April 26.