One of the longest-standing traditions within the prosperous South Granville softball program – and there are plenty of them – is the post-game group photo-op that features every player who hit a home run during that particular contest.
A wide-angle lens was needed for Wednesday’s all-smiles image as three Vikings delivered longballs, including a pair from Miranda Barker, as South Granville snapped up a 9-4 road victory at J.F. Webb in the latest installment of the teams’ friendly-but-competitive non-league rivalry in softball-crazy Granville County.
Barker, a senior who has signed with Salem College, also picked up the mound decision to help South Granville – a two-time defending state champion on the 2A level – improve to 3-0. During that trio of outings, the Vikings have outscored their foes by a combined 43-7 as South Granville once again appears poised to be a state threat come late-May.
Up-and-coming Webb fell to 3-1, but coach Leo Brunelli couldn’t find much fault in his club’s performance against one of North Carolina’s most elite fast-pitch programs.
“Obviously, we would have liked a different outcome, but it wasn’t meant to be,” Brunelli said. “It was a great experience for our team. If you don’t play the best, you will never become the best.”
Despite South Granville’s over-the-fence penchant, which saw Abbi Colclough and Brianne Coleman join Barker in the homer parade, Webb trailed by just a 6-4 margin before the Vikings gained some much-needed insurance during a three-run uprising in the top of the seventh that featured a two-run double from Falynn Neighbors.
Barker, who has been on the hill for each of South Granville’s back-to-back titles, didn’t allow a hit through four innings and was handed an early 5-0 lead.
But Webb’s Mary Anna Clement led off the bottom of the fifth with a towering home run, and Brycyn Smith would follow three batters later with a two-run single as the Warriors quickly rallied.
South Granville would display its big-game savvy to hang on down the stretch. When it was over, players and coaches from both sides stuck around and chatted despite the chilly weather conditions.
“These girls all know each other, and a lot of them play travel ball together,” said South Granville coach Jackie Day. “I’m sure they will all be going to El Rio (a restaurant in Creedmoor) later and will be playing the game over and over about 10 times in their heads. There might not be a lot of homework done, but I guess you can understand.”
The amiableness of the rivalry between the schools just 17 miles apart is certain to be tested beginning next season when Webb will move from 3A to 2A to compete with South Granville in the always-strong Northern Carolina Conference along with the likes of solid fast-pitch programs Bunn, Louisburg and Roanoke Rapids – among others.
“It seems like it gets more intense every year we play (Webb),” Colclough said. “When (Webb) comes into our conference, I’m sure it will stay that way.”