Coach Jeff Frye and the number one ranked North Stokes Lady Vikings had aspirations of playing for another state championship this season, but on Monday night the fourth ranked South Stanley Bulls defeated the home team 3-2 and ended their season in the fourth round of the NCHSAA 1A state softball championships.
“I’m so heartbroken for my girls; we have overcome many obstacles through the season and came so far as a team and individuals,” said Frye. “We hit too many pop ups and didn’t hit the ball solid tonight. I know the team we played was not better than us, but they were tonight. We will be back next year, better and more mature as a team.”
South Stanley plated two runs in the top of the first inning off of a walk and an error. Leadoff hitter Kaitlyn Tucker reached on a free pass. Sadie Lee was safe on an error and then a base hit by Adrianna Efird scored both runners for the 2-0 lead.
The Vikings got one of those runs back in the bottom half of the inning when Carley Gravely walked. Reid Hawkins managed her first of three hits on the night and moved Gravely to second. A wild pitch advanced both runners and Autumn Martin hit a sacrifice fly to center field scoring the run and cutting the deficit to 2-1.
North Stokes tied the game at two in the fourth inning when Sierra Hubbard walked and scored on Sarah McBride’s hit that went through the legs of the shortstop.
Martin sat down 11 straight batters before allowing Tucker and Lee to reach base on consecutive hits in the fifth stanza. After a Viking pitching change, Hubbard gave up a hit to Addison Campbell to left field, plating what would end up being the winning run.
North Stokes stranded base runners in every inning, but failed to get the key hit to score.
Hawkins led the Vikings at the plate by getting three of the team’s five hits. Martin and Sydney Mabe added one hit each. Five different South Stanley players added a hit. Martin pitched four and 2/3 innings giving up one earned run on four hits, a walk and four strikeouts. Hubbard gave up one hit, and had two walks and three strikeouts in two and 1/3 innings.
The Vikings finished the season 22-4 and won the Northwest 1A Conference regular season championship, while being ranked number one for most of the season. The Bulls improved to 23-5 and will play in the Western regional finals, which start this week.
“I would like to thank all of the parents and fans for supporting us this season,” Frye added. “A huge thank you to my coaches Randy Shelton, Doug Hawkins, Jim Martin and Matt Danley for the help they have given me. Until next year, we will be doing work.”
Robert Money can be reached at 336-749-1193.