South Granville High’s landmark sign framed in red brick at the corner of Wilton and Crescent informs the public what everybody in the tightly knit community already knows:
EAST DIVISION CHAMPIONS
“We’re all excited, but people are probably a little more excited about baseball, only because softball has done it so many times,” said Granville baseball senior catcher Ty Adcock, referring to the Vikings’ seven softball state titles. “Baseball hasn’t done it (the state finals) since 1982.”
There is a lot to celebrate. The baseball and softball teams will play for N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A state championships beginning on Friday.
“This rocks,” said Erin Boone, a senior softball second baseman who is committed to play at Lenoir-Rhyne University. “The guys have supported us. Our games start at 6 and theirs at 7, so they’ll come down to our field before they warm up.”
Last week, the softball players, after winning two straight against Bunn to claim the East regional title, hit the road to support baseball as the Vikings played out their best-of-three East series against Midway on Friday night at Spivey’s Corner. The girls and head coach Jackie Day made the 142-mile round trip to cheer the Vikings.
The ride home was pleasant following a 9-8 win secured on Clay Walters’ inside-the-park home run in the top of the 14th inning.
“We didn’t get home until about 2 in the morning,” said Boone, “but we were all happy and excited for them.”
Staggered start times
The NCHSAA worked out the state finals schedule with the Vikings in mind. The South Granville teams will play at N.C. State’s baseball and softball complexes with staggered starting times.
The softball Vikings (23-2) open at 6 p.m. Friday against West Region champion Forbush. The baseball team (23-3) will play nearby against Randleman at 8 p.m.
On Saturday, the girls play their second game at 11 a.m., while the boys play at 2 p.m. If third games are necessary, the softball team plays at 5 p.m. and the baseball team at either 5 p.m., or 8 p.m., depending on if the 3A series needs a third game.
South Granville was the state softball runner-up two years ago, and this year’s club includes six players from that team: Boone, Madison Boyd, Karlee Michalina, Savannah Tilley, Mackenzie Coley and Hunter Mundy.
The Vikings also were the state softball runner-up in 2000 and 2002. South Granville’s most recent 2A softball title was in 1998, and there was a 2A/1A title in 1996.
“Every year we talk about winning a state championship,” said Day, who is in his fifth year as a head coach. “You’ve got to prepare that way. That’s always at the front of the conversation.”
The 1982 team
Although the baseball team is in the state finals for the first time in 33 years, the Vikings are regular playoff participants.
“We grew up hearing about the 1982 team,” said South Granville baseball coach Curt Watkins, a former Vikings pitcher and a 1998 graduate of the school.
Watkins returned to his alma mater in 2006 as the JV coach and is in his third year as head coach after succeeding Kevin Ferrell, who was his coach. When Ferrell left for a Heritage High administrative position three years ago, he was confident the program was in good hands.
“I went to their last home playoff game, and there were former players there from 30, 20 and 10 years ago,” Ferrell said. “If this team wins it all, I know the old and current players will be celebrating for the South Granville family.”
That South Granville family extends to former college and Major League Baseball players. Texas Rangers starting pitcher Matt Harrison, a 2012 All-Star now on the disabled list, was committed to N.C. State before he was drafted in the third round and signed out of high school by the Atlanta Braves in 2003.
“There’s been an amazing number of great players come out of that town,” Ferrell said.
Softball also has a history of college players, including Harrison’s sister. Michelle Noel, nee Harrison, who played at UNC-Wilmington and is now an assistant for Day.
Rapid growth in the Triangle surrounds Creedmoor, but the town numbers 4,124 residents despite doubling its population between the 2000 Census and the 2010 Census. Creedmoor still clings to small-town America.
“A lot of fans don’t have kids on the team or in school, but they show up,” said Watkins. “They’re here year after year.”
▪ Five County Stadium, Zebulon
1A CHAMPIONSHIP: Whiteville (26-4) vs. South Stanly (21-6): Game 1: Friday, 5 p.m.; Game 2: Saturday, 11 a.m.; Game 3: (if necessary), Sat., 5 p.m.
4A CHAMPIONSHIP: Millbrook (20-10) vs. Charlotte Providence (29-3): Game 1: Friday, 8 p.m.; Game 2: Saturday, 2 p.m.; Game 3: (if necessary), Saturday, 8 p.m. (5 p.m. if no third game in 1-A)
▪ Doak Field, N.C. State, Raleigh
2A CHAMPIONSHIP: South Granville (23-2) vs. Randleman (26-4): Game 1: Friday, 8 p.m.; Game 2: Saturday, 2 p.m.; Game 3: (if necessary), Sat., 8 p.m. (5 p.m. if no third game in 3-A)
3A CHAMPIONSHIP: Pikeville Charles B. Aycock (23-5) vs. Waxhaw Marvin Ridge (27-5): Game 1: Friday, 5 p.m.; Game 2: Saturday, 11 a.m.; Game 3: (if necessary), Saturday, 5 p.m.
▪ UNC-Greensboro Softball Stadium, Greensboro
1A: North Duplin (18-3-1) vs. Hiwassee Dam (24-3): Game 1: Friday, , 8 p.m.; Game 2: Saturday, 2 p.m.; Game 3: (if necessary) Saturday, 8 p.m. (5 p.m. if no third game in 3-A)
3A: Northern Guilford (25-2) vs. Enka (26-0): Game 1: Friday, 6 p.m.; Game 2: Saturday, 11 a.m.; Game 3 (if necessary) Saturday, 5 p.m.
▪ Dail Softball Stadium, N.C. State, Raleigh
2A: South Granville (23-2) vs. East Bend Forbush (27-1): Game 1: Friday, 6 p.m.; Game 2: Saturday, 11 a.m.; Game 3: (if necessary) Saturday, 5 p.m.
4A: Greenville D.H. Conley (25-2) vs. North Davidson (25-5): Game 1: Friday, 8 p.m.; Game 2: Saturday, 2 p.m.; Game 3: (if necessary) Saturday, 8 p.m. (5 p.m. if no third game in 2-A)