They say when it rains it pours, but a deluge of Northwood hits wasn’t enough to submerge the spirits of the Corinth Holders Pirates in the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A softball playoffs on Friday.
The East No. 26-seeded Pirates rallied three times, including a four-run seventh inning, to upset the No. 2 Chargers, 10-8. Corinth Holders (14-10) stayed alive for a game at No. 3 Topsail Saturday afternoon, joining this year’s baseball team as the only two Corinth Holders units to reach the fourth round of the playoffs in school history.
“We’re fighters,” said Pirates coach Jessica Potter. “Because we’ve had to come back from behind a lot in the season, it’s just another game. We’ve had to do it in the past and knew we’d have to do it again.
“We were not favored to win the first (playoff) game, we weren’t favored in the second game, and not in the third game. A lot of teams think the lower seeds are not that good, but we put up just as big a fight.”
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The Pirates needed to fight to keep pace with the Chargers (20-3), who amassed 17 hits in a game that ended with a waterlogged field thanks to a steady rain from the onset of the second inning. Northwood coach Butch Edenfield said players, parents and other volunteers spent eight hours prepping the field in anticipation of the weather, hand raking four times and applying 75 bags of turf-drying product.
“Hats off to them, because they played in the same conditions better than we did,” Edenfield said. “But it’s a shame to have to play in these conditions in the third round. I just hate it. We had a great year.”
Every player in the Northwood lineup had at least one hit, with senior McKenzie Allgood leading the way with a 3-for-4, one-RBI night. Seniors Kayli Blankenship (three RBI), Payton Springle (two RBI) and Anna Jasper, and juniors Carson Shaner (two RBI), Ally McKee (RBI) and Hannah Fowler each contributed two hits.
Corinth Holders’ Shanan Hester, who replaced junior Aiyana Campbell in the circle in the second inning, claimed the win with five walks and a trio of strikeouts, despite allowing 11 of Northwood’s hits.
Jasper went the distance for the Chargers, giving up seven hits. She also conceded nine walks, two of which were costly in the Pirates’ final push.
Trailing 8-6 with one out in the top of the seventh, Pirates sophomore Ashlyn Biethman rode out a full count and walked to load the bases. Another walk to Campbell scored Hester, a Hanna Mizell groundout tied the game, and a double to center by junior Summer Long plated both Biethman and Campbell.
“They’re good about getting disciplined when they need to,” Potter said of her players’ pitch selection. “They also knew it was starting to rain. They were making the pitcher work.”
Northwood opened scoring in the first on a Shaner single that drove in Allison Grant, and went up 2-0 in the second as Blankenship singled up the middle to score Springle.
The Pirates’ offense first awoke in the fourth inning, when Biethman, Campbell and Mizell scored runs.
They found themselves trailing again in the bottom of the fourth, 4-3, after McKee singled to knock in Blankenship and Grant scored amidst a pick-off attempt at second base.
Kylie Keon (2-for-3) was the most successful Corinth Holders hitter, but fellow sophomore Rebecca Parker would probably argue otherwise considering her one hit was a three-run home run that scored Keon and Hailey Allen for the 6-4 lead in the fifth.
The Chargers pulled within one in the bottom of the fifth as Blankenship clinked one toward third to plate Anna Goldman. Northwood’s final charge was a three-run crusade in the sixth, led by Springle’s slap to right that sent Allgood and Shaner home.