Second round action of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association State 2A Playoffs commenced Friday evening as Midway hosted Richlands on the softball field. Fans from both schools filled the sidelines and witnessed a gritty, defensive battle against two determined squads.
Midway, though, has earned quite the name for their tough defense down the stretch and when it mattered most, the Lady Raiders strung together the winning series in the bottom of the seventh to earn the walk-off win, 1-0.
Both teams were able to get runners aboard intermittently throughout the game but just couldn’t find ways to convert.
The Lady Wildcats had the first opportunity in the top of the second and it was a promising one. Kiki Kornegay sent an-extra bases blast into left field that earned her third base with no outs. Right on cue, the Lady Raiders retired the side from there with two strikeouts and an infield ground out as Kornegay was left stranded eyeing home plate.
Midway had an almost equally promising chance in the bottom of the second when Hannah Lucas led the inning off with a single into left. Lucas moved to second on a sacrifice and was also stranded when Richlands retired the side on a strikeout and fly out.
Fly balls where the name of the game for Midway throughout a large part of the contest. The Lady Raiders had no problems getting the bat on the ball but their hits were always straight up and right at a Richlands player.
The Lady Raiders also found themselves the beneficiary of good fortune. Richlands’ Kornegay almost made Midway pay when her second at-bat saw a deep shot to left hit the fence and land just inches from being a solo home run.
The Lady Wildcats saw their best offensive threat thwarted in the top of the sixth when Hannah Thompson led the inning off with a single into right. Thompson was then bunted over to second to put her in scoring position with one out. Midway then worked themselves into a manageable situation when they forced when they forced Mia Staggs into a groundout to keep Thompson on second. The big bat of Kornegay stepped up to the plate and drew an intentional walk to put runners on first and second but the Lady Raiders shut down the threat on an infield flyout off the next batter.
Finally, in the bottom of the seventh, the drama unfolded. With the score knotted at 0-0, Laura Person stood in at the plate. Person sent a blast into left field that earned her a single-turned-double when the outfielder bobbled the ball. Two batters later, Erin Barefoot sent a sharp line drive toward Kornegay at shortstop. Kornegay stopped the ball from reaching the outfield, but Midway was in business with runners on first and third with only one out.
The Lady Wildcats elected to intentionally walk Abby Baggett, loading the bases with still only one away. Like clockwork, Caitlyn Holland hit a fly ball into left field, only this time it was shallow and fell harmlessly to the ground scoring Person for the 1-0 walkoff victory as celebration-style chaos ensued.
Midway had six hits on the evening. Lucas, Barefoot, Holland, JJ Sankey, Leah Williams and Alyssa Wrench all had one each. Holland was credited the one lone, heroic RBI.
With the win, Midway improves to 18-5 overall. They advance to third round action where the Lady Raiders collide with No. 1 South Granville. Game time is to be determined, but will take place at South Granville High School.
Reach Daron Barefoot at [email protected] Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.