PeytonCockerham and EmmaGarza0000 (WC)

SHORTSTOP PAYTON COCKERHAM prepares to field a grounder while second baseman Emma Garza backs her up in the third inning of Wilkes County’s win over Ashe County on Tuesday evening.

BOONE — Thanks to a pair of game-ending hits from Payton Cockerham, the Wilkes County 8-and-under all-star softball team advanced to the championship game of the District Two tournament.

Wilkes County’s tournament run started Tuesday evening with a 16-0 win over Ashe County at Industrial Field. It was followed up with a 17-5 win over Watauga later that evening.

In addition to earning a spot in Thursday evening’s championship game, Wilkes County also secured a spot in the upcoming Tar Heel League state tournament. That tournament will begin in Currituck starting on July 18.

Against Watauga, Wilkes County scored five runs in the first, second and fourth innings (the most a team can score in a single inning, per Tar Heel League rules) on the way to pounding out 20 hits. Watauga finished with seven hits.

Cockerham sealed the game in the fourth inning with a three-run inside the park home run in the fourth inning.

Similar to the second game, Cockerham closed out the first game against Ashe County with a three-run home run in the top of the fourth inning.

But before Cockerham’s big hit against Ashe, Wilkes County quickly set the tone in the first inning.

Sofia Gilbert, Wilkes’ leadoff hitter, started things off with a bang as she hit an inside the park home run. Gilbert was one of nine Wilkes County players with multiple hits in the win and the only player with three hits.

Following a Trinity Simpson double, Cockerham made it a 3-0 lead with a two-run home run and Lindsey Mastin added an RBI single.

Emma Garza technically added Wilkes’ third home run of the inning but per Tar Heel League rules where only five runs can be scored in an inning, she had to settle for an RBI single despite rounding the bases.

Wilkes County tacked on three more runs in the top of the second, highlighted by Jacie McGlamery’s two-run double.

Wilkes started the top of the third with three-straight singles from Callie Wayne, Martin and Kaylee Pilkenton. Wayne would score after Garza reached on a fielder’s choice.

Following a Redding groundout and a Melah Cheek single, Emily Watkins make it 11-0 with a single and McGlamery closed out the inning with a two-run double.

In addition to Gilbert, Cockerham (five runs batted), McGlamery (four RBIs), Wayne, Mastin, Pilkenton, Cheek, Watkins and Katie Staley all finished with two hits apiece to lead Wilkes’ 21-hit barrage.

Arianna Greer had Ashe County’s only hit in the game — a leadoff single in the bottom of the first.

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