BARCO — Currituck almost did it again.
The Currituck County High School softball team entered the late stages of a state playoff game trailing and on the verge of claiming another late victory.
Unlike the previous two games against Midway in the second round and Randleman in the third round, the Knights were unable to complete the comeback against South Granville.
Led by an overpowering pitching performance, South Granville defeated Currituck County 4-3 Tuesday night in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Class 2A East regional championship game.
The title game was held at the Currituck County High School softball field.
The one of the storylines of the contest was the pitching performance of South Granville senior Brooke Bowling.
Going to the bottom of the seventh inning, Bowling had not given up a hit.
Trailing 4-1, Currituck senior Kylee Schojan hit a single to center field to end Bowling’s no-hit bid.
The Knights, the No. 1 seed in the region, were still alive with Currituck junior Gracey Capps up next to bat.
On a two ball, two strike count, Capps, a left-handed bat, swung at the Bowling pitch.
The ball carried to left field and over the fence for an opposite field two-run home run to trim the South Granville lead to 4-3.
“I kept telling her, ‘They are not going to pitch you inside. They are going to keep you outside,’” Currituck head softball coach Karen Booker said she told Capps during the game.
The coach noted that she encouraged Capps to hit the ball where it was placed.
Booker’s suggestion paid off.
Currituck (13-4) still had no outs in the inning.
Currituck’s No. 5, No. 6 and No. 7 hitters in the lineup could not continue the momentum as they were retired in order to end the game.
According to statistics on MaxPreps.com, Bowling pitched seven innings, gave up two hits, three runs, two earned runs, no walks and struck out 10 batters in the win.
“To be this young and people playing in positions they have not played before, they worked really hard all year long,” Booker said about her team.
The coach noted during the season, there were a lot of long hours in practice, but noted the team was resilient.
The coach acknowledged her team’s ability to battle back from a 4-1 deficit against South Granville.
“Disappointed that we are not moving on, but not disappointed in them,” Booker said.
The coach added Currituck faced one of the best teams in the state in South Granville.
From the first through the fourth inning, Currituck only reached base once; on one of Bowling’s pitches that hit a Currituck batter in the second inning.
Currituck freshman pitcher Addyson Romanczyk was able to limit the South Granville lineup.
The Vikings had scoring chances in the first, third and fourth innings, but Romanczyk was able to make important pitches to get the key out to end South Granville scoring opportunities.
Romanczyk got help from her defense in the fourth inning. With runners on second and third with one out, South Granville’s Candace Strombeck put the ball in play on a swinging bunt.
Schojan, a catcher, fielded the ball and threw to third base. The runner was tagged before getting back to the base for the second out.
The half inning ended on a Romanczyk strikeout of South Granville’s Kaitlyn Goss.
Romanczyk pitched seven innings, struck out five batters and gave up four runs.
Booker credited Romanczyk for her performance.
The Vikings broke through in the top of the fifth inning.
South Granville, (14-0), the No. 2 seed in the East region, loaded the bases via a leadoff walk and consecutive fielder’s choices on bunt plays.
South Granville’s Savannah Thompson, a junior catcher, hit a single to center field to score a run to give the Vikings a 1-0 lead.
Bowling helped her cause with a sacrifice fly out to center field to extend the lead to 2-0.
The Knights responded in the bottom of the fifth inning.
With one out, Currituck’s Eboni Bailey, a freshman, reached base on a hit by pitch.
Currituck junior left fielder Regan Parker then executed a bunt.
The South Granville throw to first base was off target. The error allowed Bailey to score on the play, while Parker advanced to third base.
South Granville’s lead was cut to 2-1.
Currituck’s Mirenda Shields hit a fly ball to right field for the second out. Currituck opted to send the runner from third base.
Goss delivered the throw from right field as Thompson made the catch near home plate and applied the tag on the Currituck runner before she reached home plate to end the inning and preserve the 2-1 lead.
Booker, who is also the Knights’ third base coach, gave credit to South Granville’s Goss for making catches on hard hit balls by Currituck that could have led to additional runs.
The coach acknowledged that she felt the need to send the runner home to score in the fifth inning.
South Granville scored two runs in the top of the sixth inning on a Paige Strickland two-out two-run double.
Currituck ends its season as the regional runner-up and the Northeastern Coastal Conference champions.
Tuesday’s game was the final contest for seniors Elizabeth Hewitt, Karrigan Belangia and Schojan.
The trio helped the Knights win multiple conference championships and appearances in the state playoffs in three seasons.
Their 2020 season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to NCHSAA records, Tuesday’s game was the first time the Knights were in the final four (state semifinals) of the state playoffs since the 2002 season in the NCHSAA 2A state tournament.
According to NCHSAA records, regional championships in NCHSAA fast pitch softball state tournaments began in the 2012 season.
For the next four seasons, beginning in 2022, Currituck will compete as a Class 3A program.