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Wake Forest-Rolesville coach Doug Kinsman told his team it would have to face some adversity if the Cougars were to continue a postseason run.
Wake Forest-Rolesville had to score two runs the hard way Tuesday to get past Middle Creek, 2-0, and advance to its first NCHSAA 4A East softball regional since 2006.
“Sometimes you hate it when you’re right, but softball’s a weird game,” Kinsman said. “It’s a game of inches and sometimes screwy plays. We load the bases up and if we get a base hit, we make it so easy on ourselves. ... but some plays you can take it any way you can get it.”
The Cougars came into the game having scored multiple runs in the first inning in the first three rounds of the playoffs, but starting the bottom of the fourth Tuesday, Wake Forest-Rolesville found itself with no runs and no hits.
Three Cougars batters later, the bases were loaded with no outs.
Cassidy Dahle, the leadoff hitter for the inning, was forced out at home after a ground ball by Anna Wolfe, and Middle Creek pitcher Kiley Majette struck out the next batter.
With the bases still loaded, but now with two outs, the Cougars were in a tight spot.
Senior Leah Siver was up next at the plate. Midway through Siver’s at-bat, a ball got past Middle Creek catcher Erica Adams just enough for Wake Forest-Rolesville pinch runner Tor DeLuke to score the first run of the game.
An inning later, Allison Scarboro scored again for Wake Forest-Rolesville.
Caught in a rundown between third and home, Scarboro was awarded the score when Middle Creek was called for obstruction on the third-base line.
The scores were enough to push the Cougars on to face West Johnston in a best-of-three regional series for the state semifinals.
“We knew coming over here it was going to be a tough game against a good Wake Forest-Rolesville team,” said Middle Creek coach Robbie Wray. “We played them last year and it was a tight game over here and we came out on top. I told (my team) if we played hard and played well, maybe the outcome would be our way again. Unfortunately it didn’t quite happen that way for us tonight.”
Middle Creek's Camille Hobson reached base in the top of the seventh with one out. The next batter for the Mustangs, Lauren Panella, fired a shot to right field, but Siver made a leaping catch to haul in the second out and prevent Hobson from advancing.
“I knew it was above my head, so it’s almost like I leaped out of desperation,” Siver said. “It was a tough play, but I’m definitely happy about it. ... It’s awesome. Now it’s at the time where it’s just like ‘How far can we go? How far can we make it?” I’m excited.”
Wake Forest-Rolesville pitcher Brittaney Dahle got the final out at the mound for her 12th strikeout of the game.
After the game, Kinsman remarked about how critical those late defensive plays were.
“Leah gets a great jump on the ball. ... If that goes behind her head, with the speed the girl had at the plate, maybe it’s 2-2 and we have to go to extra innings and that gives them momentum going into it, but fantastic catch, and Brittaney (Dahle) was spot on awesome.”