Southwestern Randolph walks off to win 2A softball title over Midway

Southwestern Randolph walks off to win 2A softball title over Midway

Southwestern Randolph walked off to its fifth softball state championship in school history with a 3-2 victory over Midway Saturday afternoon, scoring two runs on Kami Dunn’s single with two outs.

The Cougars (23-7) fought back in their final at bat to avoid having to play a third game in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A State Championship Series.

With the Raiders up 2-1, Hayleigh Thompson singled with one out in the bottom of the seventh to put the game-tying run on base. Two batters later, Madelyn Smith singled to left field. Dunn’s slicing single to left field followed, bringing pinch runner Sara-Kate Marion into to tie the game ahead of the throw home. The ball skipped away from the catcher, allowing Smith to slide in safely, giving the Cougars another state championship.

It is the fifth state title in Southwestern Randolph school history. The Cougars were previously state champions in 2001, 2007, 2009 and 2010.

Standout pitcher Macie Crutchfield was named the series MVP. She struck out 19 batters in two games, issuing just two walks and hitting two batters. At the plate, she went 4-for-7 with three runs batted in.

The second game had a much different look as opposed to the first. Crutchfield allowed only an infield hit in the series opener, but gave up six hits and a pair of earned runs on Saturday. But her ability to get clutch outs with the help of a sellar defense made the difference in the series finale.

Midway stranded 10 runners on base.

Cougars’ coach Toby Strider had a mid-game conversation alone on the mound with Crutchfield he said, reminding her to believe in herself and her defense. Pitching out of jams with runners on base had been a theme throughout the season for Southwestern and it continued on Saturday.

Midway (21-5) had broken a 1-all stalemate in the top of the sixth inning. One-out singles from Peyton Herring and Sarah Autry set up a slicing RBI single to left field from junior center fielder Tamia Gwynn. Crutchfield escaped further damage with a pair of strikeouts to end the inning.

Midway scored its first run of the series in the top of the fourth, taking advantage of a hit batter (Eva McLamb) to start the inning. McKenzie Williams reached on an infield single, then both runners moved into scoring position on Mollie Bass’ sacrifice bunt.

Third baseman Jordyn Christopher bunted with McLamb breaking for home. The Cougars tried to make the play at the plate, but McLamb slid in safely for the game’s first run.

Southwestern came right back in the bottom half of the inning, putting its first two batters on base (Crutchfield and Maddie Strider on singles) to set up Micah Wilson’s groundout to the pitcher that allowed courtesy runner Ryleigh Hineline (running for Crutchfield) to come home tying the game.

Strider (4-for-7, five RBI and a pair of doubles), Alyssa Harris (4-for-7, 2 doubles, RBI) and Kami Dunn (4-for-8, two RBI) all had four-hit state championship efforts for the Cougars.

Midway, which was playing in its second straight state championship series and looking for its first state title, will lose just two players from its roster to graduation. The Raiders could return eight starters next season, including all three of the pitchers they used in the series (juniors Autry, a junior, and Christopher and freshman Kyleigh Stonerock).

Stonerock got the tough luck loss on Saturday, registering six strikeouts, in a complete-game effort.