Wayne County Post 11’s incredible season came to an end in the N.C. American Legion Fast Pitch Softball State championship game.
Post 11 won an elimination game 7-3 against Robeson Post 5 before facing off against Davidson Post 8 in the championship game.
In a back-and-forth game, Wayne County fought hard, but Davidson escaped with a 9-7 win in the end.
“I was proud of them this morning. They were kind of disappointed last night at supper, and I could tell that they were not in the greatest of spirits, but we came out and hit the ball in the first game,” Wayne County Post 11 head coach T.J. Smothers said. “We got to the state championship game, and all you want is a chance, and we had a chance, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.”
Wayne County struck first in the top of the second inning with Laine Marak hitting a home run, but Davidson responded in the bottom of the inning and scored two runs to take a 2-1 lead.
However, in the top of the third inning, Post 11 bounced right back.
McKenzie Millard hit a single, Alyssa Smothers drew a walk, and Le’Onna Nelson hit a single to load the bases.
Marak then hit a bases-clearing double to put Post 11 in front 5-3.
Smothers’ RBI double in the top of the fourth and an RBI double from Marak in the top of the fifth increased Wayne County’s lead to 7-3, but Davidson refused to go away and scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth to take an 8-7 lead.
“Davidson is a really good team. Solid pitching, solid hitting, and good defense all the way around, so you can’t take anything away from them because they earned it,” Smothers said.
In the top of the sixth, Millard got on base thanks to a Davidson error, while Smothers and Nelson both drew walks to load the bases.
But Davidson pitcher Salem Ward induced three straight flyouts to get Davidson out of the inning.
Davidson tacked its last run in the bottom of the sixth and held off Wayne County again in the top of the seventh to win the state championship.
Still, it was a fantastic season for Post 11. In only its second season on the softball diamond, Post 11 were Area I champions, East state champions, and were state runners-up.
And the future looks bright.
“The girls just gelled, and they go to bat for each other,” Smothers said about this year’s team. “I’m already looking forward to next year. The juniors had a really good season. We’ll rebuild and see what happens.”