A word from their sponsors

WILKES COUNTY, seen here displaying a banner with all the businesses who sponsored them during this summer's all-star games, won the Tar Heel League state tournament for 8-and-under on Sunday afternoon in Currituck. Wilkes County, which went 6-1 in the tournament, defeated Wendell twice on Sunday to win the championship. Members of the team in the photo are, front row, left-to-right, Trinity Simpson, Emma Garza, Peyton Cockerham, Callie Wayne, Melah Cheek, Emily Watkins, Josey Redding, Kaylee Pilkenton, Jacie McGlamery, Lindsey Mastin, Sophia Gilbert and Katie Staley. On the back row are, Coaches Jason Pilkenton, David Wayne, Andrew Cockerham and Roger Pilkenton.

When all three Wilkes County all-star softball teams won their respective District 2 tournaments late last month, they did so with virtually no trouble.

This past weekend’s Tar Heel League state tournament in Currituck proved to be a much more challenging task.

But Wilkes County was certainly up for the challenge as all three teams reached the state championship finals of their respective tournaments, which concluded on Sunday.

And when it was all said and done, Wilkes County’s 8-and-under all-stars defeated Wendell twice on Sunday to capture its fourth THL state championship since 2012. Wilkes County had previously won state titles in 2012, 2016 and 2017 for that age group.

Wilkes County’s 10-and-under and 12-and-under all-star teams saw their chances of completing a county sweep come up a few games short as both teams lost in the finals on Sunday to earn runner-up finishes.

The 8-and-under faced probably the toughest path to the finals after falling into the loser’s bracket early in the tournament.

After a 13-4 victory over Currituck in Thursday’s opener, Wilkes County suffered a 12-6 setback to Wendell on Friday.

Just to reach Sunday’s final, Wilkes County needed to win three straight elimination games.

Its journey started Friday afternoon with a 12-1 win over Burke County. It was followed up on Saturday afternoon with wins against Cleveland (7-4) and Cashie (15-3).

Needing to defeat Wendell twice on Sunday, Wilkes County did so with wins of 13-7 and 16-0 to win five-straight must-wins and capture the title.

The 10-and-under team fared better in the early rounds.

After receiving a first-round bye, Wilkes County defeated host Currituck 12-2 on Friday morning but dropped an 11-1 decision to Edenton (from District 7 where the tournament took place) on Saturday morning.

But Wilkes County bounced back and defeated fellow District 2 representative Watauga 12-0 to reach the finals.

In Sunday’s championship game, Wilkes showed much improvement but fell 3-0 to Edenton, coming up just shy of winning its second state title in the last three years.

Defending 12-and-under state champion Wilkes County started off strong with wins over Cashie (8-1) and fellow District 2 representative Ashe County (17-4) on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

Wilkes County fell into the loser’s bracket after dropping a 2-1 decision on Saturday morning to Shelby — last year’s 12-and-under state runner-up.

Wilkes rebounded on Saturday afternoon to defeat Johnston County East 8-2 but saw its dream of a state championship repeat come to an end as Shelby bested Wilkes on Sunday 8-4.

Note: See full stories on all three Wilkes County teams run in Friday’s Wilkes Journal-Patriot. In addition to Wilkes County, fellow District 2 representatives Ashe County (12-and-under) and Watauga (10-and-under) also won at least one game. Watauga reached the loser’s bracket final. The Cashie all-stars defeated Western Harnett on Saturday to win the 15-and-under state tournament.

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