After missing out on the N.C. American Legion Fast Pitch Softball State Tournament in 2019, Wayne County Post 11 certainly made a splash in its first game of this season’s state tournament held at Crest High School in Shelby.
Down 1-0 in the third inning, Wayne County put its foot on the gas pedal and went on to earn a 9-1 victory against Robeson County Post 5.
“When we started this three years ago, we wanted to get here the first year, and then COVID hit us the second year, but it’s fulfilling to finally reach the state tournament,” Wayne County Post 11 head coach T.J. Smothers said. “We started off a little slow, but once we get rolling, we were pretty good.
“All in all, it’s a good win, and that’s a good team we beat too.”
Robeson scored its only run of the game in the bottom of the first and managed to hold Wayne County scoreless for two innings.
But Wayne County quickly turned things out in the top of the third.
Rylee Joe Myers got things started with a leadoff single. Myers then stole second and reached third off Alyssa Smothers’ single.
Post 11 tied things up 1-1 off a Robeson error that enabled Le’Onna Nelson to get on base, Smothers to reach third, and Myers to score.
Mackenzie Amodeo, Laine Marak, Gracelyn Massey, and Brianna Verme reeled off four connective doubles, and suddenly, Wayne County had a 6-1 lead.
“I told them ‘let’s be aggressive, and their pitcher was throwing strikes, so I said ‘the first strike we see let’s hit it and see what happens,’ and I think we hit four doubles in a row,” Smothers said. “That was a nice inning.”
Nelson’s RBI single and Marak’s RBI ground out in the top of the fourth increased Wayne County’s advantage to 8-1.
After the first inning, Robeson rarely threatened, but Robeson managed to load the bases with one out on the board in the bottom of the fourth. However, Verme induced a strikeout and flyout to get Wayne County out of the inning.
“They loaded the bases on her, and we got of it. It was probably a little closer than 9-1,” Smothers said.
Another Robeson error in the top of the fifth allowed Myers to score, which extended Post 11’s lead to 9-1. Kierstin Cooper relived Verme in the bottom of the inning, and Cooper struck out two of the four batters she faced to help give Post 11 the win.
Wayne County will next face the winner of Davidson Post 8 vs. Cleveland Post 82 tomorrow at 3:30.