Midway’s baseball and softball teams both advanced to the third round of the NCHSAA 2-A state playoffs with wins at home on Friday night.
On the softball field, No. 8 Midway edged No. 9 Richlands in a 1-0 defensive battle when sophomore Caitlyn Holland drove in junior Laura Person with a walk off single in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“We knew that was going to be a one-run ball game, the way it went,” said Midway coach Leigh Ann Smith. “The key was pitching tonight. Defense was stout. It was going to come down to us hitting it level down on the infield and making them work for it, and that’s what we wound up doing.”
This is the first trip to the third round of the softball playoffs for Midway since 2013, the last season before the Raiders moved up to the 2-A classification.
Freshman Miranda Holmes pitched her second complete game shutout of the playoffs for the Raiders (18-5), giving up four hits and one intentional walk, with six strikeouts.
“That right there is part of what’s helping her,” Smith said, pointing to Holmes talking to senior catcher Blythe Best. “Blythe’s helping her a lot.”
Hailey Futrell also went the distance for the Wildcats (17-9), yielding no earned runs on six hits and one intentional walk, with three strikeouts.
Holland had one hit and one RBI. J.J. Sankey, Leah Williams, Hannah Lucas, Alyssa Wrench and Erin Barefoot had one hit apiece.
Kiki Kornegay had two hits, a double and a triple, and Hannah Thompson and Makayla Baker had one hit apiece for Richlands.
“That No. 14 they had (Kornegay) could hit the ball,” Smith said. “It paid off us walking her (an intentional walk in the sixth inning). The first time she hit, we tried something. The second time she hit, we tried something else. So the next time she came up, I just made up my mind that we were putting her on.”
Richlands’ best chance to score came with two out in the top of the fourth. Kornegay doubled and Baker followed with a base hit. Baker tried to take second on a throw to the plate to keep Kornegay on third but was caught in a rundown. Kornegay tried to score during the rundown, but Holland tagged Baker out before Kornegay touched home plate, meaning the side was retired and the run did not count.
Person led off the bottom of the seventh by taking second base on an error. After a strikeout, Kornegay made a diving stop to keep a hard ground ball from Barefoot in the infield. With no chance to get Barefoot at first, she threw to third to try to get Person, but the umpire said Person got to the base just before the tag was applied. Richlands then intentionally walked Abby Baggett to load the bases, looking for a force out at any base. But Holland came through with a flare to left field that dropped in for a base hit to bring Person home for the win and a trip to the third round.
Smith notes a spring break tournament at D.H. Conley on March 30 and 31 as Midway’s turning point on the season.
“Greenville was our turning point,” Smith said. “We changed our lineup. We changed our approach to the way we’re hitting the ball. We changed hitting practice, just really, really concentrating on hitting the ball level and not worrying about popping it up.”
Midway will travel to unbeaten top seed South Granville (21-0) in the third round. The Vikings have reached the state championship series in each of the last three seasons. They won back-to-back state titles in 2015 and 2016 and were state runners-up last season.
On the baseball field, No. 6 Midway made short work of No. 22 Roanoke Rapids, taking a 17-0 win in five innings.
“We hit the ball well,” said Midway baseball coach Jason Fussell. “We did what we had to do. Their No. 1 pitcher pitched the other night, their No. 2 got a concussion. So, they were left with three, four and five and we did what we were supposed to do. It was a good team win tonight.”
Junior Chandler Williford pitched four innings to take the win for the Raiders (18-5), giving up no runs on one hit and one walk, with five strikeouts. Carson Calcutt pitched one inning, allowing no runs on two walks, with one strikeout.
“Chandler, he wanted the ball and did a great job,” Fussell said.
Austin Peterson had two hits, including a triple, two RBIs and one run scored. Williford had two hits and two RBIs.
Colby Pope had a double, three RBIs and three runs scored. Brayden Coats had one hit, one RBI and one run scored. Carson Calcutt, Cameron Barefoot and Cal Tyndall each had one RBI and two runs scored. Cameron Calcutt and Sawyer Sutton had one RBI apiece. Jonathan Cooper had four runs scored. Jaron Register and Dajohn Butler scored one run apiece.
Carson Neal had the lone hit for the Yellow Jackets (14-10).
Midway scored six runs in the first inning, four in the second, one in the third and six in the fourth.
“Our kids did great,” Fussell said. “They ran the bases well and were on their toes.”
Midway will play at No. 3 Randleman (22-5) game in the third round.