North Surry rallied from a two-run deficit to beat West Stokes 3-2 in the first round of the Class 2A West softball playoffs on Tuesday night.
Bailey Culler scored the tying run on a passed ball and Jordan Badget drove in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning to help send the Lady Greyhounds to the next round.
Coach Will Hodges of North Surry said his team never feels like they are out of a ball game.
The Hounds (18-4) proved it again on Tuesday night.
“They don’t get scared,” Hodges said. “They know they can come back.”
West (10-15) had a 2-0 lead on a pair of solo home runs from first baseman Leah Smith in the fourth and sixth innings — the second of which cleared the netting of the Hounds’ batting cage beyond the left-field fence.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Hounds answered.
Taylor Hill led off the inning with a single up the middle off Abigail Worley, and then advanced to second on a groundout. Culler reached on a fielder’s choice — as West tried to tag out Hill in a rundown between second and third. Hill slid safely into third and Culler moved to second on some heads-up baserunning. Hayley Tickle drove in Hill with a single to pull the Hounds to within a run.
With Badget at the plate, a pitch from Worley got past catcher Julie Fulk. Culler hustled home on the play, and Fulk made the throw to Worley at the plate. Culler was ruled safe at home, and Hodges said later the umpire had determined that Worley trapped the ball on the ground.
Culler said she was only thinking about one thing when she headed toward home.
“I’ve got to score, I’ve got to score,” Culler said. “It was probably one of the best feelings I’ve had, being a senior and being down one run.”
In the next at-bat, Badgett came through with a clutch RBI double to right-center field to put North up 3-2.
Starter Marlee Bunker retired the Wildcats in order in the bottom of the seventh to close the deal. The senior hurler and two-year varsity player pitched a complete game and gave up two runs off seven hits, had no walks and struck out three.
“She pitched a great game,” Hodges said. “She’s done a great job all year pitching.”
North rallied from a five-run deficit to beat the Wildcats in a conference game this season and won all three meetings this year against West.
West got a great effort from Worley, who had a two-hitter through five innings. She gave up three runs off six hits, walked one and fanned eight.
“Abigail has gotten better all year,” Hodges said. “(West Stokes coach) Jordan (Stevens) has done a good job all year.”
With the victory, the Hounds take on the East Davidson-Mount Pleasant winner on Friday night in the second round.
North has been one of the top-ranked 2A teams this year — winning its first 11 games. The Hounds’ only losses have come to 2A power Forbush and 4A West Forsyth.
Both East Davidson and Mount Pleasant have 15-6 records.
At this point in the season, it’s survive and advance.
“We’ve got the ability, we’ve got the talent and we’ve worked hard to get here,” Hodges said. “We just got to keep our heads in it.”