Princeton claws back, takes 1-A softball championship
Posted June 4, 2016
Raleigh, N.C. — Late game heroics from Casey Mitchell lift Princeton over North Stanly 3-2, giving the Princeton Bulldogs a 2-1 series win and the 1A Girl’s Softball State Championship title.
The first two innings saw nothing of note from either team, both sides trading base hits. Pitcher Hailey Wood was dominant early in the second inning. Heidi Smith popped one up for the Comets, and Kelsey Peedin was there to make the catch.
Wood struck out Alexa Sells, marking Wood’s fifteenth strikeout of the weekend, and then Emily Ricks made a catch at third base on a pop fly from Leah Russell to close out the top half of the second inning.
The bottom half of the second and top half of the third innings saw both Wood and Comet pitcher Sam Hogan register two strikeouts each. Hogan faced three batters in the bottom of the third inning, all three hitting fly balls that were easily caught by Comet fielders.
The Comets were finally able to get on the score sheet in the top of the fourth inning, Almond led off with a double down the left field line, Faulkner was called out at first base, just a bit slower than the throw, but Almond was able to advance to third base.
Hogan followed with a solid knock to the second base area, the shortstop Taylor Carroll’s throw was not in time, as Hogan was able to reach first and Almond scored the game’s first run.
Heidi Smith was ruled out at first after a hit right at the second baseman Taylor Flowers, made the throw to first with Hogan advancing to second. Sells followed with a ground ball to the diving Carroll, the ball bounced off Carroll’s body allowing Sells to reach base and Hogan to score, increasing the Comet lead to 2-0.
Russell grounded out to close the inning, capping the North Stanly lead at 2 runs.
The Bulldogs were not able to respond in the later half of the fourth inning. Beth Braswell singled into the shallow, but was left stranded after a strikeout and two easy infield outs.
Princeton played tough defense in the top half of the fifth inning. Mimi Selke bunted, but Wood was there to make the grab.
Bailey Frick followed with shallow floater, but miscommunication allowed the ball to drop in the infield, rendering Ricks safe at first.
Jada Jordan hit one to right field, but it was easily handled, due to a base running error by Frick, she was tagged out at first base, closing out the first half of the fifth inning.
The Bulldogs were finally able to put together some quality offense, after an out to Peedin, Meghan Bryant hit a line drive to the shortstop, just bouncing under the diving Faulkner.
Brianna Myers came to the plate and Bryant promptly stole second, and due to a bad throw from the catcher, Bryant was able to advance to third.
Myers was walked and Carroll hit a sacrifice bunt, moving Myers to second base. Wood followed with a ground ball, hit directly at the second baseman Faulkner, she bobbled the ball allowing Wood to dig out a single, and Bryant easily scored to cut the Comet lead in half, 2-1.
North Stanly was unable to score, despite two hits in the top half of the sixth inning.
Trailing 2-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, after a walk to the lead off hitter Emily Ricks, Casey Mitchell cranked one over the wall in dead center field, giving the Bulldogs their first lead of the game, 3-2.
The Bulldogs were able to hang on to the lead, and secure the victory after a three-up three-down seventh inning.
Bulldog pitcher and Appalachian State commit Hailey Wood had a dominant weekend in the circle, posting seventeen strikeouts on the weekend.
This marks the first state championship in softball for Princeton High School, Princeton sophomore Casey Mitchell was named MVP of the championship series thanks to her game winning home run in the sixth inning.