BOONE — For the second time in less than 24 hours on Wednesday night, Wilkes County faced Watauga in the District Two tournament for 10-and-under softball all-stars.
But this time, the stakes were considerably higher, and Wilkes County responded to the challenge with an 11-0 win in the championship game of the Tar Heel League district tournament at Industrial Field.
The game, which was ended in the bottom of the fourth inning via the mercy rule, was a much different outcome compared to the 5-1 victory that Wilkes County scored on Tuesday night.
Wilkes County’s bats started off hot as Kelsey Madden and Aubrianna Nichols led off the game with back-to-back singles. Following Nichols’ hit, Madden scored off an error.
Leah Greene, who along with Madden finished with three hits apiece, made it a 2-0 game with an RBI single. Greene finished a home run shy of hitting for the cycle.
Watauga (1-2), which defeated Hickory 14-1 earlier on Wednesday, attempted to trim Wilkes’ deficit in the top of the second after a lead-off single from Olivia Ray.
Ray eventually stole a pair of bases but Madden settled down and struck out the side to end what would be Watauga’s lone offensive threat of the game.
Madden, who faced the minimum over the next two innings, earned the win inside the pitching circle, striking out nine in a complete-game shutout. She also scored three times.
Wilkes County’s offense ramped up again in the third inning.
First, Madden and Greene pushed the lead to 4-0 with an RBI double and an RBI triple, respectively. Jaidyn Blankenship added an RBI single in the inning.
Wilkes County put the game and the tournament to bed in the bottom of the fourth as it sent nine batters to the plate.
RBI Singles from Lily Truitt and Hailie Wilmoth pushed the lead to seven.
Watauga’s Olivia Ray, who started the game and relieved Brenna Yates in the third, struck out Jenna Lambert for the second out of the inning and looked like she would avoid further damage.
But after Arilya Oakley, Wilkes’ final batter in the order, was hit by a pitch, Madden and Nichols made it 9-0 with back-to-back RBI singles.
One batter later, Greene ended the game and the tournament with a two-run double that scored Madden and Nichols, who also finished with multiple hits going 2-for-3.
Wilkes County will now turn its attention to the Tar Heel League state tournament, which is set to take place July 18-21 in Currituck. With its win over Hickory in the loser’s bracket final, Watauga also secured a spot in the state tournament.
Notes: In addition to Tuesday’s win against Watauga, Wilkes County defeated Hickory 12-0 in the opener on Tuesday evening. Despite taking the loss, Ray struck out five in 2 2/3 innings of work.