North Stokes Lady Vikings fought to punch their ticket to the state championship but fell just three runs short on Saturday night in an 8-5 loss to North Stanly at home.
“Overall we played well, but we struggled at the bat and couldn’t get hits,” said coach Jeff Frye.
The ladies finished with an impressive 24-3 record, won 17 games straight, earned seven shut outs, and took home the Northwest 1A Conference title.
“We play with our hearts and that’s the reason the wins are celebrated and the losses hurt more,” Frye said. “We have three hour practices every day and these girls get beat and banged up and still keep going. It’s a life lesson I hope they take with them. Whatever happens, you have to keep going. The only thing holding you back from accomplishing anything is yourself.”
North Stanly scored in the first inning and the Lady Vikings quickly responded. At bat, they scored two runs off a single from Chandley Garner, and doubles from Emily Evans and Lora Wood.
North Stanly tacked on two more runs in the third inning and three in the fourth giving them a 6-2 advantage.
In the bottom of the fourth, senior Ashley Smith stepped up and hammered a hit over the right side fence closing the gap to 6-3.
But the momentum was short lived.
North Stanly doubled off a Vikings error in the top of the sixth and cashed in two more runs off a homer pushing their lead 8-3.
Brianna Lester came in to relieve Sierra Hubbard and pitched the final inning.
The next batter singled with a pop up over second baseman, Tana Frye.
Garner grabbed a double play after catching a ball at shortstop and firing it to first baseman Wood who tagged the runner out. Garner caught the next pop fly to end the inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, Wood singled and Carson Watkins drove her home with a double.
Garner went on to add a run in the seventh inning to finish the game at 8-5.
“This group of seniors will be very hard to replace,” Frye said. “Each year is different with different personalities, but these girls really took everyone in and helped mold them. We never want to see them get complacent because it’s more than just softball.”
Frye explained a chant the girls have been doing for years, “1-2-3 Do Work” and said the two words encapsulate what their program is all about.
“It pretty much covers everything. Whatever you do, take pride in it. Finish what you started and don’t quit. These girls aren’t quitters.”
Frye thanked the community, who came out in droves on Saturday, lining the outfield fence and cheering on Stokes County’s last high school team standing this season.
“It’s a big deal to me and the girls appreciate it. We knew it would be a crowd, but for people to come out and support North Stokes softball means a lot.”
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.