BOONE — Wilkes County’s offense didn’t start off hot during Thursday’s district championship.

But Wilkes County eventually found its bats and the runs followed to the tune of a 17-6 win over Watauga in the District 2 championship game at Industrial Field.

Despite scoring the inning-maximum for runs in three of the five innings, the runs weren’t coming in early even though Wilkes made contact with the ball.

Peyton Cockerham, one of six players with three hits or more in the game, gave Wilkes a 1-0 lead with an RBI double.

But Watauga (1-2) got off to a great start in the bottom of the first behind an inside the park home run from Shelby Hicks.

Kennedy Thompson made it a 4-1 lead after an inning with a three-run double.

After Jacie McGlamery trimmed Wilkes County’s deficit to 4-2 with an RBI double in the second, Wilkes’ offense found another gear an inning later.

Melah Cheek (single) and Sofia Gilbert (double) each notched a base hit and Trinity Simpson, Wilkes’ No. 2 hitter, drove in both players with a double to tie the game.

Callie Wayne put Wilkes County ahead 5-4 with an RBI single, and Kaylee Pilkington and Emma Garza also drove in runs with a double and a single, respectively.

Gilbert, who went a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate with three runs batted in, extended the lead to 10-4 with a two-run double. Cockerham drove in both Gilbert and Simpson to cap off Wilkes County’s five-run inning.

Watauga cut the deficit to 12-6 after four innings with Sydney Herman’s two-run home run.

Emily Watkins, who went 3-for-3 at the plate, kicked off the scoring in the fifth with an RBI single. McGlamery (single) and Josie Redding (groundout) also added run-scoring at-bats in the inning.

After Cheek’s single extended the lead to 16-6, Gilbert closed out the game with an RBI single to score McGlamery .

Simpson, Cockerham, McGlamery and Garza also finished with three hits apiece for Wilkes County (3-0), which will now play in the Tar Heel League state tournament on July 18-21 in Currituck. Cheek, Pilkenton, Callie Wayne and Katie Staley added two hits apiece.

Avonlea Piper, Hicks and Herman and led the way for Watauga with two hits apiece. Watauga will also compete in the state tournament.

Wilkes teams pay tribute

All three Wilkes County all-star softball teams wore patches with the initials of Cassandra Gilbert and Madison Gilbert on the front their jerseys to commemorate the two young ladies who died in a head-on collision back in early May.

According to Wilkes County Head Coach Roger Pilkington, the girls wanted to do something to know that they haven’t been forgotten. Sofia Gilbert, the niece of Cassandra and Madison, was a member of the 8-and-under all-star team.

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