For 27 games, South Granville’s softball team was the perfect combination of youth and experience, of hitting and pitching, of defending two straight state titles while focusing on the future.
But after its final two contests, the Vikings were dealt the unsavory duo of pride and heartbreak.
South Granville lost the deciding Game 3 in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A championship best-of-three series on Saturday, falling 7-2 to Union County’s Parkwood High. Parkwood had forced a third game with a 3-2 Game 2 victory earlier in the day.
Getting back to the title game for a third straight year was something to be proud of – especially with starting four freshmen – but the way it ended was a hard pill to swallow. The first two losses of the season came on the same day, on the biggest stage.
“To get here three times in a row and win it three times in a row is hard. There are a lot of teams that don’t get here at all, and those teams are worthy of it,” South Granville coach Jackie Day said. “I saw an aggressive team. They didn’t quit. They still played as hard as they could, and I’m proud of them.”
Parkwood (27-3) led 1-0 in the top half of the first, scoring on an error at first base. South Granville (27-2) evened it in the bottom half as Emma Jones scored on a wild pitch after reaching third on an error in left field.
Jones, a freshman, was 6-of-9 in the series to lead the way for the Vikings. Megan White was 3-of-8, batting in two of South Granville’s seven runs spread across three games.
The score remained deadlocked until disaster hit South Granville in the top of the fifth inning.
South Granville had three errors – two on one play, to put two Parkwood runners on. A bunt single loaded the bases, and then the Vikings unraveled. With two outs, South Granville surrendered a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch, a bases-loaded walk and a three-run double.
The Vikings could only tack on an RBI double by Ally Goss in the bottom half of the inning the rest of the way, and Parkwood added one more in the top of the seventh on a throwing error from the outfield.
Both teams had seven hits apiece, but South Granville had five total errors. Parkwood made diving catch after diving catch, and it proved to be the difference.
“Parkwood kept us off-balance off the pitching today, (South Granville pitcher) Miranda (Barker) threw everything she had at them – they hit good pitches. She hit her spots, she made the ball move. Can’t say enough about Miranda,” Day said. “It just wasn’t our day. (Parkwood) made some great defensive plays, you can’t take anything away from them.”
South Granville is losing just three seniors: reserve Taylor Walker, right fielder Abbi Colclough and Barker.
“This is going to be the motivation to get back here again next year,” Day said. “They just gotta fight hard. They didn’t quit today, they gave it everything that they had.”