APEX — Middle Creek used an eight-run explosion in the second inning to bounce Tri-9 rival Fuquay-Varina 8-5 from the third round of the state softball playoffs Thursday night at Middle Creek School Park.
Middle Creek will face the Apex/Wake Forest-Rolesville winner in the fourth round next Tuesday.
The Mustangs (19-4) sent 13 batters to the plate and banged out eight hits, including a clutch two-out, three-run triple by junior third baseman Lauren Panella that proved to be the winning margin.
When we get a lot of energy, thats usually when we hit really well, Panella said. We have to be in the game all the time, and thats what did it for us.
Panella nearly didnt get a chance to drive in three runs, for the Bengals (14-5) committed two two-out errors to prolong the inning.
We had the third out twice, Fuquay coach Deb Clarke said. It shouldve not happened. But there wasnt any slowing down that train. I called time in that inning, but sometimes things snowball. They get a hit, and the next person believes they can get a hit, and the next thing you know, you bobble this, bobble that, and there you go.
The eight-run inning was a first for both teams, as Middle Creek had not scored that many in a single inning all season, and Fuquay had not given up that many in an inning, either.
Camille Hobson led off the second by getting hit by Bengals starter Heather Ratcliffs pitch. After Panella made the first out, Emily Franks and Jenna Powell singled, with Hobson scoring on Powells base hit. One out later, leadoff batter Megan Walker singled home Franks to tie the game at 2-2.
But the hits kept on coming. Alie Burghardt singled, and Tyler Ross the N.C. State recruit recently returning from a knee injury drove home Walker with another single. Pitcher Kyle Majette followed with a base hit, bringing Hobson to the plate again. This time, she singled home Burghardt for a 5-2 lead.
Panella followed by lining a shot to right center that scored three more runs.
I was feeling it, Panella said with a smile.
So were her teammates.
We were fortunate, got some hits in holes and took advantage of a couple extra opportunities that they gave us, Middle Creek coach Robbie Wray said. We got some good hits, too. The kids did a good job.
Fuquay scored three in the fourth and had the go-ahead run at the plate, but Majette retired Ashlyn Long and Kelsey Ward the No. 3 and 4 hitters to end the threat. Majette closed the Bengals out by cutting down the final eight hitters, including striking out the side in the seventh.