MINT HILL, NC – The Queen’s Grant Lady Stallions won their first ever state playoff game at home in the Corral. They rallied with a huge comeback victory when they exploded for 6 runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to advance into the second round against Mountain Island Charter.
This game certainly had its ups and downs. It was basically a pitching battle for five innings with the visitors from Bethany, Summerfield, NC, leading 2-1 on unearned runs. Also, two very questionable umpire calls went against the Stallions to snuff out a rally, and took a run off the scoreboard. I give Coach Don Nicholas credit for keeping his composure; he showed the team good leadership and sportsmanship. Folks, both calls were clearly bad in my book, fand or a while it looked like they might impact the final outcome.
However, the young ladies showed some true grit. They only seemed to become more determined and motivated. They could see for themselves things were not going their way by committing two fielding miscues leading to unearned runs, including the two obviously bad decisions by the officials. They put their rally caps on, showed their determination and never gave up. In the bottom of the sixth, Katelynn Hartis reached first base, and the next two batters playing small ball executed bunts perfectly for hits in the bottom of the line up to load the bases. Then they allowed the next five hitters to do damage, and they delivered like they have all season for the Stallions.
There was a barrage of hits Natalie Megale singled; Alyssa Steele tripled into the right centerfield gap, Abi Sawyers doubled off the left field fence, and Liz Finter followed with another two bagger for 2 more RBI’s. The Stallions were now in a great position to win this game from the Wolves with Sawyers on the mound pitching a gem ahead 7-2 with just three outs away from advancing.
In the top of the seventh inning, Sawyers struck out the first batter; then a weak grounder to Finter at shortstop for the putout, and a fly ball to second base that Gracie Mallow handled easily to end the ballgame.
Sawyers went the distance pitching all 7 innings; she allowed only 1 hit, no earned runs, no base-on-balls, and accumulated 14 strikeouts while facing 25 at-bats. On offense Alyssa Steele was the star of the game; she went 4-4, had 2 RBI’s, and almost hit for the cycle. She had a single, double, and 2 triples to lead the charge. Meanwhile, Reagan Cowick went 2-3, Sophie Stenmark 2-3, Finter 2-3 with two doubles, while both Megale and Sawyers had key hits to contribute to the first round victory.
The Stallions will take on a loaded Mountain Island team, the #4 seed; they will need to play their best game of the season on the road, and Sawyers must put up another great pitching effort to pull off the upset to advance going deep into the tournament. We wish them well, and to remain eternally optimistic as every player is already a winner on this Stallions team.