CLAYTON — Utilizing a 10-run, fourth-inning surge, the Johnston County All-Stars rolled to a 17-6 victory Tuesday night for a sweep of Cleveland in the Tar Heel District V 10U Softball Championship Series.
Johnston County, which downed the Angels 5-3 in the opening game of the best-of-three series Monday night, blew open a tight game with an eight-hit assault in the inning, highlighted by Alli Stewart’s one-out, bases-loaded triple.
The district title propels Johnston County into the State Tar Heel Fastpitch Softball Championship Tournament, which will be contested in Shelby, July 17-20.
“We were missing our No. 1, who has a broken finger,” said Johnston County coach Stan Johnson. “So our girls had a lot of adversity. But the girls came through with our other pitchers. Our bats were a little slow yesterday and they were slow tonight, but we got them going in the fourth inning, the ball started finding holes and we began scoring runs.”
The All-Stars began finding the holes behind the bat of Hannah Beasley, whose RBI double kicked off the rally from a 4-3 deficit.
Singles by Grayson Johnson, Ashleigh McLamband Kaylee Weaver kept the momentum going, and after an error and a hit batter, Stewart delivered the blow of the night.
“Ashleigh’s triple was the first ball we had really hit hard Monday night or tonight up to that point,” Johnson said. “After that, we had three or four more hard-hit balls.
“We have some things that we need to work on before we go to Shelby.”
Stewart’s blast, which rolled to the base of the fence in center field, gave the All-Stars an apparent 10-4 lead, and led to an awkward moment in the contest.
The umpiring crew, citing the Tar Heel League’s rule of ending an inning when a team had scored five runs, ruled Stewart’s hit a single, with only one run scoring on the hit, making the score 8-4 with Cleveland coming up to bat.
But the umpires were overruled by Tar Heel League officials on site who said the rule was waived in district and state tournament play.
Stewart’s triple and the two previously disallowed runs were returned to Johnston County, and Cleveland returned to the field to finish the inning.
The All-Stars put three additional runs on the board to increase its lead to 13-4 entering the bottom of the fourth.
Things did not get any better for the Angels in the All-Stars’ half of the fifth, as Johnston County pushed its advantage to 17-4.
“We just didn’t get any breaks,” Burgettsaid, referring the barrage of Johnston County hits that either found every hole possible, or skipped under the gloves of the Angels Infielders.
“Their coach (Johnson) told them when they went to the dugout before the fourth inning, to swing the bats the way we just had, and they did.”
Burgett told her girls the score had gotten away from them at that point, and to just have fun.
Cleveland had wiped out a 3-0 deficit with a four-run third inning, paced by Delaney Eaves’ go-ahead, two-run homer.
Eaves led the Angels at the plate with a 2-for-2 night with three RBIs. The All-Stars were paced by Kaylee Weaver (3-for-3 with a two-run homer), Stewart (3-for-4 with four RBIs) and 2-for-3 nights from Morgan Wells, Beasley and McLamb.