RALEIGH – Entering the season. the Forbush Falcons softball team had the motto, “One Team; One Goal.” Unfortuntely for them, the Falcons remarkable run came to an end Saturday afternoon in the 2A State Championship at Dail Stadium in Raleigh.
Behind South Granville sophomore Miranda Barker’s stellar pitching, and junior Hunter Mundy’s two momentum-changing home runs at the plate, the Vikings hung on for a 4-3 win in game two to win the state championship.
Looking at the numbers, both Miranda Barker and Forbush’s Sydney Miller deserve a lot of credit. In game one Friday night, both Miller and Barker pitched complete games. The catch? They each had to pitch 11 innings that night as the game was knotted at one before South Granville’s Megan White broke the tie for the walkoff win.
Both pitchers came back to perform well in Saturday’s game. Overall, the two combined for 10 runs allowed over 36 innings pitched.
Forbush Head Coach Jeremy Helton noted both pitchers had a challenge on their hands to come out and put on a solid performance in Saturday’s game.
“Sydney pitched great this series. It’s a quick turnaround. It takes a lot for a young kid, a junior in high school to turn right around in this atmosphere. It takes a lot of grit and character to be able to do what she did. It was a well pitched series by both teams,” Helton said.
South Granville jumped out to an early 1-0 lead with an unearned run in the first. In the top of the third, Mundy homered to deep left field for a two-run home run to put the Vikings up 3-0.
However, the Falcons dug deep like they have all season, and in the bottom half of the third, Allison Mitchell also drove a two-run home run to deep left field to pull the Falcons back within one.
The score would remain the same until the top of the sixth, until Mundy came up to bat and drove the ball almost to the same place for yet another home run. Her performance helped earn her the tournament Most Valuable Player award.
Forbush would close to within one in the bottom half of the inning, but the Falcons could not find a way to get the tying run home.
On Friday night, Forbush had loaded the bases in the 10th but failed to score.
Both teams had 10 hits on Friday, with Mallory Choplin leading Forbush with three hits and Marisaa Lineberry hitting safely twice. Erin Boone had three hits, including a double, to lead the way for South Granville, who finished 25-2 for the school’s first state title since 1998.
Looking back at the series as a whole, Forbush missed out on a bunch of opportunities, leaving runners on base, and made some errors that ultimately proved to be the difference in game two.
In game one, Forbush could not get a run across with the bases loaded, and in the first inning of game two, stranded a runner on third base with one out. It’s coming up just short that motivated the Falcons last year, and Helton said that it will help the team for next season.
“I know we didn’t achieve our goal, but we’re a pretty young team,” Helton said. “We’re going to keep the same motto next year and bottle up all the emotion. We need to remember the feeling, the tears, and use that as motivation.”
The Falcons lose three seniors, two of them starters, but replacing them are 11 juniors determined to come back stronger next season. Last season, junior Taylor Wooten won the Western Piedmont Athletic Conference Player of the Year award. This season, it was announced earlier this week that junior Logan Wood won the award, making it two years in a row for Forbush.
Earning honors as well was senior co-captain Savannah Yale, who won the Wells Fargo 2A Sportsmanship Award before Friday night’s game. Yale’s leadership throughout the season proved to be pivotal both on the field and in the dugout with her teammates.
“I think last year was really heartbreaking and it movitated us to want to go further, and not do it for the ring or the title but for each other,” Yale said. “In a certain way, we were all leaders and I think that’s what made our team stand out the most.”
Forbush ends its season as the Western Regional Champions and the regular season and tournament champions of the WPAC.
The Falcons were in the finals for the first time since 2004 and have five previous state championships, including two when the sport was slow pitch. The Falcons ended 27-3.
Jeremy Moorhouse contributed to this report.