The Halifax County Middle School softball team gave fans an exciting start to the season with an 8-7 walk-off victory over Mecklenburg County in its season opener Wednesday night.
It was a wire-walk contest the whole way through with the two sides locked into a 7-7 tie entering the bottom of the seventh inning. However, the Lions were determined not to play extra innings and did what was necessary to pick up the win.
Madisyn Bogan gave Halifax a bit of momentum when she worked a one-out walk but the Phoenix cooled things down a bit with a flyout to right field. Bogan picked things back up when she advanced to second on a stolen base and Ella Seamster kept things alive with a walk. Bogan moved over to third on a steal and Emmerson Salley lifted the Lions to the walk-off win with her single back up the middle.
Mecklenburg (0-1) entered the top of the seventh, facing a 7-5 deficit, down to its final three outs. However, the Phoenix got a rally going courtesy of an RBI triple and tied the game at 7-7 on a wild pitch.
The seventh wasn’t the only time Mecklenburg put together a rally as it scored three runs in the sixth to erase a 5-2 deficit. An RBI double made it a two-run contest and the Phoenix tied the game on a two-run single.
Keeping the see-saw theme going, the Lions struck back with a pair of runs in their half of the sixth to push back in front. Seamster led off the frame with a single to right and moved into scoring position on Salley’s sacrifice bunt to third. Kennedy Bowen worked a walk to give Halifax a pair of base runners and after a double steal from Seamster and Bowen, Allie Payne plated Seamster with her groundout to short to give the Lions a 6-5 edge. Kyndall Richardson gave Halifax a two-run lead when she scored Bowen with her base knock to right.
Once again, though, the Phoenix rallied, scoring a pair of runs in the seventh to knot the score.
The Lions took the momentum early, scoring a pair of runs in the first. Lilly Torian drove in Halifax’s first run of the season with a double to center and Kynnedy Riley doubled down on the lead with an extra-base knock of her own.
Payne made it a three-run game in the second with her infield single to short that scored Seamster.
Mecklenburg scored its first run of the season on an RBI double in the third that trimmed its deficit to 3-1 and a run-scoring groundout capped a two-run frame that made it a one-run game.
The Lions scored a pair of runs in the fifth to push their lead back to three. Torian started the rally with her RBI double to left and made it a 5-2 game when she scored on a wild pitch two batters later.
Richardson got the win in the circle, scattering just one hit and a pair of runs while striking out two in 1.1 innings pitched. Torian went 5.2 innings in the start, striking out two.
Payne and Torian led Halifax with a pair of RBIs apiece while Salley, Riley and Richardson drove in a run apiece as well. Torian recorded a game-high three hits while Richardson, Payne and Salley smacked a pair of hits as well.
Halifax returns to action March 15 when it hosts Laurel Park at 5 p.m.
Davin Wilson is the sports editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at email@example.com.