No matter how many times they had to stop and start, Middle Creek’s softball team stayed hot at the plate in a drawn-out Game 1 of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A East final series.
Middle Creek took Game 1 by an 11-7 final at Fayetteville’s Cape Fear High on Wednesday. After two days and three postponements, the Mustangs are a game away from the state championship series.
“They won’t quit. There’s no quit. The other night against West (Johnston) they could’ve quit, but they don’t,” said a choked-up Mustangs coach Robbie Wray, referencing the fourth-round game where they trailed by three going into the final inning.
Wednesday’s action picked up after two lightning delays on Tuesday, but the Mustangs never collected rust.
The first stoppage for lightning came just one batter into the contest. The second came in the bottom of the second, which is where it picked up on Wednesday.
Middle Creek entered the day already up 2-0. When play resumed, Middle Creek added two runs on an RBI infield single by Rachael Klass and an RBI single from Lily Morris.
Up 4-0, lightning struck again. The third came eight batters into Wednesday’s restart.
When play resumed this time, the Mustangs plated two more on a dropped ball at first base that would have ended the inning, taking a 6-0 lead after three innings.
“The delays were definitely tough but we made sure to not let it set us back,” second baseman Jackie Schavone said. Cape Fear’s Mary Williams “throws harder than anyone we’ve seen, but I think we were so determined to hit the ball.”
Cape Fear’s errors were a big boost to Middle Creek. The Colts made five in all, but Middle Creek also cranked out 10 hits.
Pitcher Devin Wallace made it 7-0 Mustangs with an RBI single in the top of the fourth.
Then the Colts put a scare into Middle Creek.
A homer in the bottom of the fourth broke up a no-hitter and made it 7-1. Middle Creek expanded the lead to 9-1 on a two-run RBI single by Wallace, but Cape Fear added one more on a wild pitch in the bottom half.
Cape Fear then brought nine players up to bat in the bottom of the sixth. With the tying run at the plate with the bases loaded, Schavone completed the 4-3 putout to end the inning with Middle Creek holding to a 9-5 lead.
“It was stressful, but I have confidence in our team and I knew we would fight back and win it,” Schavone said.
Middle Creek added two on an RBI single by Jenna Powell and a bases-loaded walk to Schavone, her third walk of the game.
Junior Kiley Majette pitched the final inning, giving up a two-run home run but nothing more. Cape Fear had five hits, drew five walks, was hit-by-pitch three times and scored on two wild pitches.
Game 2 is scheduled for Thursday at Middle Creek at 7 p.m.
Wray said he knew Cape Fear would be ready, but also knows his players are in the right state of mind – playing for one another.
“They understand how important this is for the seniors,” Wray said. “Two weeks ago one of the sophomores got interviewed and the guy asked her what it meant to her and she said, ‘I don’t want to see the seniors lose.’ ”