Published: May 30, 2011 06:27 PM
Modified: Jun 01, 2011 05:39 AM
HOLLY SPRINGS - The Holly Springs softball team combined hot bats, solid defense and dominant pitching to overcome Fuquay-Varina 6-0 in the fourth round of the NCHSAA 4-A playoffs on Saturday.
The Golden Hawks (22-1) advanced to their first-ever softball semifinal, and will play Clayton on Friday at the Walnut Creek Softball Complex.
Holly Springs ace Erica Nunn struck out 14 Bengals, while the Golden Hawks belted out eight hits in the game. Holly Springs scored four times in the sixth inning, which broke open a tight game.
Fuquay-Varina (22-4) had reached the state finals last year as the Tri-Nine Conference's No. 4 seed and had outscored the opposition 22-8 in this year's playoffs coming into Saturday.
"We felt if we could score three runs today we could make it to the Creek," said Holly Springs coach Jill Munchick, whose team has won its four playoff games by a combined score of 23-3. "This has been a total team effort, and all the girls have worked extremely hard to get here. It's unbelievable, and I'm extremely proud of them."
Golden Hawks junior Jenna Firestein got things going offensively in the bottom of the third inning when she nailed an opposite-field triple to left, driving in Giselle Ramos. Shortstop Kristen Krebs singled in Firestein to give Holly Springs a 2-0 advantage.
Hawks Kelly Barnes, Kayla Minyard, Ramos and Krebs all scored in the sixth inning, while pinch hitter Ka'la Jordan, Firestein and Nunn each drove in runs during the inning.
"We just went out there with clear heads and did everything we needed to do today," said Firestein, who finished the game 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
"This means the world," Nunn said. "Our goal at the beginning of the season was to get to Walnut Creek" (site of the state finals).
Beth Wantz (2-for-3) also contributed to the Golden Hawks' attack, while Cianna Burt, the hero of their third round win over Wake Forest-Rolesville, added a single.
The Bengals posted five base hits and actually had at least one runner on base every inning but stranded a total of nine.
Fuquay-Varina had Paige Canfield on second base with one out in the second inning, but Holly Springs' Minyard, playing at second base, made a key catch on a sharp line drive off the bat of Jessi Johnson, preventing a potential early Bengals rally.
Shelby Tigbayan opened the fifth with a double, but Nunn struck out the next three Bengals batters. To top it off, the Bengals had runners on second and third with no outs in the final inning, only to watch Nunn repeat her sixth-inning performance. In all, Nunn limited the powerful 3-4-5 Bengals hitters to 2-for-9 hitting. The Hawks fielders committed just two errors.
"We had our best outing today against them with five base hits, and we had runners on base every inning," Fuquay-Varina coach Deb Clarke said. "The problem is we needed runs. Hats off to Holly Springs; I wish them all the best."