RALEIGH, N.C. – The Comets of North Stanly captured their first NCHSAA fast-pitch state championship, hanging on to beat Whiteville 4-2 in an 11-inning thriller in the series finale.
Merris Talbert went 11 innings for the Comets, hurling eight strikeouts while allowing just two runs, both earned, two walks and seven hits in the outing. She was matched almost pitch for pitch by Whiteville’s Ivy Hayes who also went 11-innings, giving up 12 hits, and four runs, all earned. Hayes only walked one while striking out eight.
It was a pitcher’s duel until the final inning. In the top half of the 11th North Stanly got a leadoff single from Payton Landis. Then Alexa Sells dug in and launched one out of the park to give the Comets a 3-1 lead. Sells was named the series M.V.P. for what turned out to be the game-winning homer. Mimi Selke added to the Comet lead when she reached with a single in the inning and scored on an RBI single by Jada Jordan.
With a 4-1 lead and three outs to get, Talbert went back to work in the circle against the Wolfpack. Laura Thompson reached with a one-out single. She scored on an RBI single by Sage McLelland to trim the Comet advantage to 4-2 with one out in the inning. However, Talbert reached back to get a little extra for the next two batters, striking them both out to close out the win and series for North Stanly.
The two teams swapped runs in the third inning. North Stanly scratched first with Sam Hogan leading off with a double before scoring on an RBI single by Jordan. Whiteville answered with Santana Best leading off with a single. She was bunted into scoring position by Lauren Hilbourn and scored on a two out single by Kourtney Grainger to tie the game at 1.