Hunter Mundy has been carrying a huge bat for South Granville all season long, and she swung it hard at just the right time Friday night.
Mundy ripped the first pitch of her sixth-inning at-bat over the right-field fence for a three-run homer, lifting the Vikings to a 3-0 win over North Johnston in the fourth round of the state 2A softball playoffs.
The winner put South Granville (21-2), which has won seven state titles and was runner-up two seasons ago, into the best-of-3 Eastern finals beginning Tuesday night at Bunn.
Sophomore Miranda Barker, who has had every decision for the Vikings this season, was the winning pitcher, allowing two hits while striking out 10 against five walks in the shutout.
“We expected it to be even closer than that,” South coach Jackie Day said. “We didn’t hit well, they got some infield hits, but we were able to make the adjustments. Miranda got some strikeouts and we got some calls.
“The biggest difference was that we made some adjustments. On Hunter’s first at-bat she swung at one that was in the dirt. Then later she tagged one that made the difference in the game.”
Junior Emma Turner took the loss for the Panthers (18-7), allowing the three runs on five hits with three strikeouts against just one walk. Turner finished 12-5 on the season.
“I thought overall we played a very good game,” first-year North varsity coach Chris Batten said. “We had some opportunities that we squandered. We blew an opportunity in the first inning that was my fault. I thought Emma pitched a great game, but there were a couple of slow rollers that we just couldn’t handle and got people on base.
“We did a good job against a great ball team that has every opportunity to win a state championship. It was just one of those missed games.”
Senior Erin Boone, who has a career average over .500 as South Granville’s leadoff hitter and is headed to the next level at Lenoir-Rhyne, went 2-for-2 and scored a run.
South had never put two runners aboard in any inning until the seventh. That’s when Boone led off with her second infield hit to second and then Savannah Tilley reached on a bouncer to the mound that Turner was unable to handle. Mundy then stepped the plate and launched a no-doubter out of the park in right on the first pitch.
“I got an outside curve ball on the home run,” said Mundy, who has nine homers on the season. “(Turner) was giving us pitches to hit, but we didn’t hit them when we weren’t focused.
“My goal was to hit an outside pitch. I love high pitches outside, and that’s where it was. Once I let go of the bat I knew it was gone.”
North threatened to score several times, but Barker battled her way out of trouble.
She got a double play in the first, a bases-loaded strikeout to end the second and another double play to end the fourth. The Panthers had the leadoff runner reach four times including a hit in the fourth inning from Turner and another in the sixth from Kaylynn Batten.
“I didn’t know much about (North),” Barker said. “I pitched my game and my teammates backed me up. That’s really all you can ask for.
“Most of (the Panthers) could hit the low pitches but they had trouble with the high ones, and my rise ball was working well.”
It was the final high school game for North catcher Batten, the coach’s daughter, who will play at Longwood next season.
“We played really well,” Kaylynn Batten said. “We didn’t execute as well as we possibly could, but we hit the ball and put runners on base. I wouldn’t trade my team for anything, and I’m glad we got to play our last game so deep into the playoffs.
“We’re a family. I wouldn’t trade them even if we were the worst team in the state. We’ve bonded like no other.”