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AREA ROUNDUP: Lady Chargers beat Hilltop Christian 3-1 to return to NCCSA 2-A girls soccer championship game

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The Wilson Christian Academy varsity girls soccer team will play for a second straight North Carolina Christian School Association 2-A state championship at 2 p.m. Saturday on the Turnage Athletic Complex pitch after dealing Hilltop Christian, the No. 3 East Region seed, a 3-1 loss in Friday’s semifinals.

The Lady Chargers of head coach Don Samson, with a 13-1-1 record, oppose Alamance Christian, No. 1 from the West Region, for the title. Alamance blanked Friendship Christian of Raleigh in the other semifinal Friday.

The senior combo of Anna Grace Abrams and Jenna Hunter sparked WCA, the No. 1 East Region seed, to a 2-0 halftime lead.

Abrams opened the scoring on an assist from Dani Reece in the 19th minute. In the 35th minute, Hunter netted the second goal on Abrams’ assist.

Hilltop closed the deficit to 2-1 at halftime but, in the 44th minute, the Lady Chargers added an insurance goal from freshman Lindsay Hunter. Sophomore Lydia Renfrow had the assist.

WCA posted a 17-6 margin in shots and freshman goalkeeper Kendall Harris was credited with three saves.

Samson noted his Lady Chargers battled through passive lapses and, of Saturday’s final, commented: “One day and you never know. Alamance is really good and should make a good game of it.”

BASEBALL

Wilson Christian reaches NCCSA final

Struggling with a 2-10 record at mid-season, the Wilson Christian Academy varsity baseball team plays for the North Carolina Christian School Association 2-A championship on its Turnage Athletic Complex diamond at 1:30 p.m. Saturday after turning back Friendship Christian of Raleigh, 5-2, in Friday night’s semifinals.

The Chargers, riding a 10-game winning streak and the No. 2 East Region seed, opposeAlamance Christian, No. 2 from the West Region, for state supremacy. Alamance spilled Wilmington Christian, No. 1 from the East Region, in the other semifinal.

“We have come a long way,” exclaimed WCA head coach Ty Bissett. “It just proves you don’t have to win every game to play for the state championship. You have to get better and we have gotten better each game all season.”

WCA (12-10) handily defeated District 3 rival Friendship (7-7) twice during the regular season but, in Friday night’s state semifinal, trailed 1-0 going into the bottom of the fourth inning.

With two outs, Will Shearin doubled home Adrian Dehart to tie the score.

The Chargers broke loose for four runs in the fifth against Friendship pitcher Jake Haufler, the starter and loser. Bryce Hughes and Gabe Barnes each singled and were sacrificed-bunted to third and second, respectively. Max Holland rapped a run-scoring single. After Preston Skinner drew an intentional walk, Dehart slapped a two-run single and Shearin drove in the final run with a sacrifice fly.

On the mound for the Chargers, Zack Denmark, the starter and winner, worked five innings, allowing five hits, two runs (both unearned) and two walks while striking out six. Carlos Mendoza relieved and worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth in earning the save.

Holland was the only player with two hits. Dehart and Shearin each drove in two runs.

Score by innings:

Friendship1000010—2

Wilson Christian000140x—5

WP-Zack Denmark 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO. LP-Jake Hauffier 5 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO. S- Carlos Mendoza 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 SO.

LEADING HITTERS — Friendship Christian: Jax Cabe 1-3, Daniel Elston 1-3, RBI; Wilson Christian: Max Holland 2-4, RBI; Gabe Barnes 1-3, Preston Skinner 1-2, Adrian Dehart 1-3, 2 RBI; Will Shearin 1-2, 2B, 2 RBI; Jackson Hoskins 1-3, Bryce Hughes 1-3.

SOFTBALL

Vinson walk-off sends CBA by Topsail

PIKEVILLE — In a second-round state 3-A softball playoff game fraught with drama, C.B. Aycock senior Hannah Vinson provided the biggest flourish of all with a game-winning solo home run in the bottom of the seventh inning Friday night against Topsail.

Vinson’s blast, on the first pitch from Lady Pirates reliever Addy Thomas, gave the Lady Falcons a 6-5 victory and sent them into the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A third round, where they will play 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference rival D.H. Conley. The fourth meeting of the season between the top two 3-A teams in the ECC will take place Tuesday at Aycock. The Lady Falcons rallied to beat Conley 11-9 in a playoff game last Saturday for the ECC’s top 3-A seed after splitting the two regular-season meetings.

The Lady Falcons (18-6), the ECC’s top 3-A seed and No. 6 in the East, fell behind 3-0 when the Lady Pirates (18-7), the 3-A/4-A Mideastern Conference’s runners-up and No. 11 seed in the region, touched CBA starting pitcher Cassandra Lassiter for three runs, in part due to a leaky CBA defense that committed five errors on the game.

“I told them, ‘Let’s get those three runs back a little at a time because I know we’re going to score,’” Aycock head coach LaVon Matthews. “We just needed to settle down and play defense and we did.”

Senior Taylor Puetz belted a two-run double in the third as CBA scored three runs to take a 4-3 lead. After Topsail tied the score in the fourth, freshman Abbey Thomas stroked an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth to put the Lady Falcons back on top. However, the Lady Pirates tied the score again in the top of the seventh.

Matthews said he felt good going to the bottom of the inning, considering that Vinson, Puetz and Lassiter were due up.

“I had the batters up that I needed in the bottom of the seventh,” Matthew said, “I said, ‘Lord, I got the three up you need so just pick one and hit it out!’”

Vinson obliged for her fifth homer of the season and the Lady Falcons were headed to the third round.

Score by innings:

Topsail3001010—5

C.B. Aycock0130101—6

WP-Cassandra Lassiter 7 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO. LP-Addy Howard 3 1/3 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO.

No outs when winning run scored.

LEADING HITTERS — Topsail: Neenee Jordan 3-4, 1 R. C.B. Aycock: Hannah Vinson 2-4, 2B, HR, RBI; Taylor Puetz 2-3, 2 2Bs, 2 RBIs; Abby Thomas 1-2, 2 RBIs.

One out away, Lady Bruins denied 7-6

CLIMAX — One out away from a monumental second-round upset, the visiting Beddingfield High School softball team was dealt a crushing 7-6 loss by undefeated Providence Grove on Friday evening.

The Lady Bruins, without a hit through five innings, overcame a 4-1 deficit with five runs in the top of the seventh. But Providence Grove, seeded No. 2 among 32 East Region qualifiers, walked off on a two-out single.

Beddingfield, the No. 3 representative from the Eastern Plains Conference, exited with a 17-4 record. Providence Grove advances into the third round at 22-0.

“We knew what we were facing,” said disappointed Beddingfield head coach Jeremy Howard. “I don’t know if a whole lot of people — other than those on the team and those who rode up here with us — gave us a chance.

“I told the girls they might be the loser on the scoreboard but winners in life. I couldn’t be more proud of a team.”

Beddingfield senior right-hander Brianna Hale and Providence Grove pitcher Anna Thomas waged a scoreless duel until Hale allowed four runs in the bottom of the fifth.

Hale drove in a sixth-inning run for Beddingfield. In the seventh, the Lady Bruins loaded the bases on walks to Anna Gardner and Carissa Hayes and an error. Junior Caitlin Abrams burned the Providence Grove defense with a two-run double. Singles by seniors Cassie Dail and Chloe Radford produced a 4-4 tie. Hale then struck again with a two-run single.

Hale retired the first Providence Grove batter in the seventh, but Sam Welch slammed a home run to whittle the deficit to 6-5. With two outs, Sarah Williams and pinch hitter Peyton Grettler each singled. Williams raced home with the tying run when the softball, on Grettler’s hit, skipped away from the Beddingfield out.

Providence Grove walked off when Gabriella Hessenthalen singled and Beddingfield’s throw to the plate from the outfield was high.

Howard lamented weird bounces of the softball and Providence Grove hitting balls where Beddingfield defenders were not.

Sensational careers ended for Lady Bruins seniors Dail, Radford, Hale and Savannah Barberio. The Lady Bruins compiled a 70-15 record during the seniors’ four years.

Score by innings:

Beddingfield0000015—6

Providence Grove0000403—7

WP-Anna Thomas 7 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 6 SO. LP-Brianna Hale (15-4) 6 2/3 IP, 10 Hi, 7 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 8 SO.

LEADING HITTERS — Beddingfield: Brianna Hale 1-3, 3 RBI; Caitlin Abrams 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Chloe Radford 1-3, RBI; Cassie Dail 1-4; Providence Grove: Gabriella Hessenthaler 2-4, RBI; Maddie Hunt 2-3, AnnaThomas 1-3, 3B, 2 RBI; Sam Welch 1-4, HR, RBI; Tatum Smith 2-4, RBI.

Ladybirds stumble in second round

STANHOPE — The Southern Nash High varsity softball team plated the first run, but no more, and bowed 6-1 to Harnett Central in the second round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A playoffs.

The Ladybirds, seeded No. 7 and the regular-season and tournament champions from the Big East Conference, saw their winning streak snapped at 16 games and bowed out with a 22-5 record.

Sophomore Carrigan Ewers singled in the Southern Nash run in the bottom of the first inning.

Harnett Central, the No. 10 seed among 32 East Region q ualifiers, grabbed the lead for keeps with two runs in the second, and added two more in the fifth and one each in each of the last two innings.

Score by innings:

Harnett Central0200211—6

Southern Nash1000000—1

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