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South Stanly freshman delivers walk-off homer, lifts Bulls to 1A Regional Finals

The game was delayed three days due to weather along with scheduling difficulties, but the third round 1A softball playoff game between South Stanly was played Monday night.

Playing at home as the No. 1 seed, the Bulls advanced with a dramatic 2-1 eight-inning win over No. 4. seed Alleghany.

Freshman Cassidy Smith led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a walk-off solo home run to put the Bulls into Tuesday’s 1A Western Regional Finals.

Her shot over the left field fence came off a changeup which Alleghany starter Kenzi Lyall had used well to that point limiting South (14-2) to one hit having struck 11 batters out.

(Click here for a link to a video of the home run: https://youtu.be/8yvw2XTZIBA)

“(Assistant Coach) Matt (Little) told me to choke up (on the bat) so I choked up and just waited on (the pitch),” Smith said.

For most of the game, the duel was between the team’s two starting pitchers. South’s Sadie Lee and Alleghany starter Kenzi Lyall, both seniors, matched each other with strong efforts.

Lee gave up a leadoff hit in the top of the first but did not give up another hit until the seventh inning. The South senior allowed one earned run on two hits with one walk, one hit batter and 11 strikeouts.

The pitching matchup was a flashback of sorts for Lee and the Bulls, who faced Alleghany in the 2018 1A Western Regionals Series three times, losing to the Spartans who won the state title that season.

“We just kind of knew what to expect,” Lee said, adding they are similar pitchers in style with Lyall being more of a rise ball hurler.

“I just knew I had to bring it with me like I have the past couple of games.”

The Bulls’ defense contributed double plays in the first and third innings to keep the Trojans (11-6) off the scoreboard until late in the game.

South took the lead in the second inning without the benefit of a hit. Kassie Swink drew a walk and stole both second and third bases. She then scored when a Lyall went past the Alleghany catcher. As she threw back to the plate, her throw got past the pitcher with Swink halfway down the line. The Bulls sophomore quickly scored to put South on the board.

Having the lead early was big, Lee said, taking some of the stress off of herself along with the team’s defense.

Lyall, who will play D-I softball next year at Appalachian State, had a no-hitter through 5.1 innings before Holly Barrier’s solid single up the middle, the Bulls’ only other hit of the game.

In the seventh, Alleghany’s Taylor Allen led off with a bloop single right in front of the left fielder. A bad throw on a pickoff attempt allowed Allen to move to second, and a wild pitch moved her to third. With one out, Chloe Pruitt hit into a fielder’s choice to first base scoring Allen when the throw home was too late.

With the walk-off win, South Stanly goes back to work tomorrow night hosting No. 3 Mountain Island Charter in the regional finals. The Raptors, seeded No. 3, earned a 7-3 win Friday over No. 10 Murphy.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio was the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press from 1999-2001 and has currently served in the same capacity since 2008. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also been honored twice by the North Carolina Press Association.

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