Few are the opponents who have enjoyed a three-game winning streak against South Granville during the illustrious history of that school’s softball program.
But Bunn held that hex over the Vikings after recent meetings, including a two-outing sweep this spring en route to claiming the Northern Carolina 2A championship.
That trend came to a crashing halt Tuesday as South Granville returned the favor by topping the Wildcats 6-4 in the opener of a best-of-3 series in the semifinals of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A playoffs.
The second game of the series will be Thursday in Creedmoor, with the Vikings (22-2) needing just one more victory to advance to the state finals and a chance at their eighth state title.
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Though the Wildcats had controlled the season series – albeit by just a combined three runs – South Granville appeared to be the more upbeat, confident club from the beginning Tuesday.
“Loose players always seem to play better,” South Granville coach Jackie Day said. “You can’t be walking around on eggshells. We’ve got big-game experience, so these girls know how to respond in these situations.”
South Granville scored in three of the first four inning and led 4-0, thanks in part to clutch pitching from sophomore Miranda Barker, who escaped bases-loaded jams in the first and second innings.
The Vikings’ early offensive work also ended a playoff-long streak by Bunn ace Erica Davis – the owner of four consecutive shutouts to start the postseason.
“We had a good night at the plate – that was the difference in this game” as opposed to the two previous matchups, Day said. “Erica has done a good job of keeping us off-balance this year. In this game, we were able to pick some pitches that we could hit more easily.”
Neither pitcher was dominant, but Barker was able to induce outs when she needed them until Bunn (21-2) rallied with a three-run fifth without hitting a ball out of the infield.
Bunn had gained momentum for the first time in the contest, only to see South Granville quickly reclaim it with two runs in the sixth. Madison Boyd’s RBI double sparked the rally, and Erin Boone followed with a single to drive in another run – and push the Vikings’ cushion back to 6-3.
Bunn put two runners on base to begin the bottom of the sixth and scored once before Barker recorded three consecutive outs to end the threat. The Wildcats went down in order in the bottom of the seventh.
The victory was an important step for the Vikings, though Day isn’t taking anything for granted heading into the second – and possibly third – game of the series.
“You can’t ever predict how these things will go,” Day said. “Bunn has a very solid team -- you have to respect them. They gave us our only two losses this year.”