East Wilkes wins school's first softball state title, beats Northside in three games

East Wilkes wins school’s first softball state title, beats Northside in three games

With one thunderous inning, the East Wilkes Cardinals put an emphatic exclamation point on their storybook season — and earned the school’s first state softball crown in the process.

Trailing by two runs heading into the bottom of the fourth, the Cardinals erupted for seven runs and never looked back on their way to defeating Northside-Pinetown by a 9-3 margin in the rubber game of the best-of-three Class 1-A State Championships on Saturday at the Duke Softball Complex.

East Wilkes, which needed to win two games on Saturday in order to rally for the title, closed at 29-4 overall, while Northside, which was the No. 13 seed out of the East Region but still made it to the championship, finished at 22-6.

Even after falling in Friday’s opener, the Cardinals arrived at Duke on Saturday with a loose, carefree attitude — but still focused on its challenging task.

After a fast start in the second game of the series, East Wilkes held off a late Panthers’ threat to force a deciding showdown later in the day.

But things didn’t start well for the Cardinals in the finale as Northside scored twice in the second and tacked on one more run in the third off an RBI single from Jorden Clark to move ahead 3-1.

However, East Wilkes had an answer — just as it did the entire day.

After starting out the bottom of the fourth with consecutive walks and a bloop single, the hit parade continued with a two-run single from Game Two hero Kyleigh Lane before senior catcher and Rutgers University signee Jayden Hutchison smashed the most important hit of the series — a three-run blast that capped off the seven-run uprising and gave the Cardinals a commanding 8-3 cushion.

Hutchison then gave the Cardinals some insurance — and cemented her Series Most Valuable Player status — by tacking on a solo job in the bottom of the sixth.

Mound workhorse Chloe Andrews, who started the first two games and entered the finale in relief in the top of the fourth, then finished off the series by retiring the Panthers without a run in the to of the seventh.

Source: highschoolot.com