Bunker Hill High’s girls stood tall on Tuesday night, wiping out a three-run deficit with six runs in the sixth inning to get into the school record book.
The 13th-seeded Bears tripped No. 12 North Lincoln 6-3 on the road to earn their first trip to the fourth round of the state playoffs in softball – slo-pitch or fast-pitch – in school history.
Bunker Hill (15-6) meets top-seeded West Stanly (25-1) next in Oakboro in a 2A game that must be played by Friday. The Colts advanced on Tuesday by beating No. 8 seed North Davidson 10-0 at West Stanly.
The fourth-round winner earns a bid into the West 2A best-of-3 series scheduled Tuesday through next Thursday, with No. 3 Fred T. Foard (20-3) and No. 2 Franklin (21-0) the potential opponents.
The Bears have never played Foard in the postseason, and they have not faced Franklin in the playoffs in nearly 35 years.
Bunker Hill is through to the fourth round for the first time after winning in its second third-round game. The Bears had previously reached the third round in slo-pitch, falling 18-10 to Franklin in the 1984 2A bracket.
Tuesday’s game started as a challenge for Bunker Hill, as it gave up three runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Aidyn Cada started with a double for North Lincoln (18-5). After a strikeout, the Knights gained a 3-0 lead via a hit by Makayla Watts and a run scoring on a passed ball.
There was no scoring again until the sixth inning when Addie Wray started the at-bat with a bunt single. With one out, Bryant doubled, followed by a two-run double by Lillie Pennington.
With runners on second and third, Sydie Ammons walked to bring up Cierra Martin. Martin drove a 1-1 pitch into center field for a grand slam.
A running catch by Makayla Turner closed the game, giving Bryant a complete game victory that included checking North Lincoln on five hits She walked four and struck out 10.
Fred T. Foard 6, Madison 0
The third-seeded Tigers (20-3) won at home over the sixth-seeded Patriots (20-1) to advance in 2A and to the fourth round for the eighth time in school history.
Foard faces No. 2 Franklin (21-0) on the road in a fourth-round game that must be played by Friday.
Franklin advanced Tuesday with a 3-0 home win over No. 10 Mount Pleasant.
Base-running helped Foard win and get to the fourth round for the first time since 2013. Abby Settlemyre beat a throw to home in the first inning with a slide before Rowe’s run-scoring double made it 2-0. Emily Campbell also beat an infield throw to the plate that put the Tigers up 3-0.
Katelynn Thompson and Rowe, with another double, also drove in runs for Foard.
The Tigers haven’ been deeper than the fourth round in the state playoffs since 1998, when they followed a 1997 so-pitch state title with a fast-pitch state title. Foard also won a state title in 1991.
This will be Foard’s fifth battle with Franklin in the postseason. Franklin won a first-round fast-pitch game 5-1 in 1997 and Foard won 3-0 in 2011 (third round), 1-0 in 10 innings in 2012 (third round) and 2-1 in 2013 (third round).
Alexander Central 10, Crest 5
Three players had three hits each, and the Cougars (23-5) had 14 as they beat the sixth-seeded Chargers (23-4) to punch a ticket to another spot in the fourth round.
Alexander Central now meets No. 10 Cox Mill (17-8) in a 3A game that must be played by Friday in Taylorsville.
Cox Mill advanced by beating No. 15 Waynesville Tuscola 6-1 at Cox Mill on Tuesday.
Kelsea Dejarnette, Mattie Starnes and Alexa Rash each had three hits — with Starnes driving in four runs, Rash two and Dejarnette one — to lead the host Cougars.
Julie Gast added two hits for Alexander Central, which jumped to a 3-0 lead through two innings.
The Cougars’ Chesney Millsaps (23-5) threw a complete game, allowing seven hits, five runs (all earned) with five walks and three strikeouts. She threw 116 pitches, 59 for strikes.
Sydney Kale and Mackenzie Haynes each had two hits for Crest.
The Chargers scored three runs in the top of the sixth inning to get within 6-4 but the Cougars scored four runs in the bottom of the inning.
Alexander Central is in the fourth round for the second straight year, the seventh time in eight seasons and 11th time since the 2000 season.
The Cougars have three state titles since 2000 (2011, 2013, 2014).
West Forsyth 2, South Caldwell 0
Ginnai Smith threw a complete game, using 108 pitches, to lead the 13th-seeded Titans past No. 5 seed South Caldwell in Hudson in a third-round state 4A game.
Smith walked three and struck out 11 and had a double that factored into a run as West Forsyth (22-6) advanced to play No. 4 Ardrey Kell (23-5) on the road in a fourth-round game that must be played by Friday.
The Titans scored in the fifth inning when Blake Corn singled, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Lyle Pfingst. Smith doubled in the sixth inning, moved up on an error and scored when Smith hit into a double play.
Corn, Pfingst and Smith had the three West Forsyth hits.
Austin Reynor and Owen Foxx had the Spartans’ hits.
Daniel Dye took the loss, throwing 100 pitches. He gave up three hits, two runs (both earned), walked two and struck out two for the Spartans.
South Caldwell (23-4) was eliminated from the postseason in the third round for the fourth time in five seasons, failing to score in their third round game for the third season in a row. In the previous two games, Southeast Guilford won 10-0 and Providence won 17-0.
Spartans head coach Jeff Parham is four wins away from 400 for his career, sitting at 396-95 through 18 seasons at his alma mater.
Crest 2, Alexander Central 1, 8 inn.
Luke Scism’s two-out single in the bottom of the eighth inning was a walk-off winner, pushing host Crest (24-2, No. 1 seed) past the eighth-seeded Cougars (22-8).
Scism had two of Crest’s three hits in what turned out to be a pitching duel with both starters – Riley Cheek of Crest and Bryson Hammer of Alexander Central – working seven innings.
Cheek gave up four hits, one run (earned), walked one and struck out 10 before reliever C.J. Mayhew, who threw an inning with one walk and two strikeouts, gained a win.
Hammer gave up two hits, one run (earned) with three walks and nine strikeouts. Reliever Nate Moretz (3-2) took the loss going two-thirds of an inning. He gave up one hit, one run (earned) with two walks and two strikeouts.
Crest gained a 1-0 lead in the home fourth inning with a solo home run by John Kyle Mitchell.
The Cougars scored a run in the sixth inning for a tie at 1 via a home run by Justin Cook, who had two of Alexander Central’s five hits.
Scism hit a 1-1 pitch into left field for the game-winning hit in the eighth inning.
Alexander Central’s 22-win season is its best since going 26-2 in 2004 and its fifth 20 or more win year since 1997 (22-5).
Cougars head coach Pete Hardee has coached his three teams in Taylorsville to a 54-31 record and, unofficially, has a career record of 418-324 with 285 of those wins during his tenure as head coach at Watauga.
North Lincoln 9, Mount Pleasant 5
Erasing an early five-run deficit, the Knights won a third-round 2A game at home to extend their win streak to 17.
Smoky Mountain beat N. 5 Forbush 7-1 to advance.
Mount Pleasant (18-12), seeded No. 24, led the Knights 5-0 by the second inning.
North Lincoln to two runs back on a Tyler McPeak home run and run-scoring single by Jake Soorus but still trailed 5-2 after three innings.
The Knights gained control with a six-run fifth inning.
There are three other teams left in the West 2A bracket, No. 3 North Davidson (22-4), No. 10 Ledford (24-3) and No. 2 R-S Central (23-3). The latter two’s third-round game on Tuesday in Rutherfordton was rained out and will be played Wednesday.
North Davidson advance by beating N. 2 Salisbury 5-1 in Welcome.