Michala McCune had one of her better efforts of the year, but unfortunately, it was all in vain as the Watauga High softball team dropped an 8-4 decision to St. Stephens in the opening-round of the Northwestern 3A-4A Conference Tournament Tuesday night in St. Stepehns, N.C.
The Pioneers (3-13) came out with a purpose and scored twice in the top of the first inning, thanks to a McCune's two-run triple. McCune was 2-4 with three runs-batted-in. Shelby Winebarger backed up McCune going 2-3 with an RBI. But it wasn't enough.
The Indians, the No.2 seed, scored five times in the bottom of the first and took control of the game. Saint sent nine batters to the plate and they scored their five runs on five hits.
The Pioneers got within two at 5-3 with a run in the top of the third. Winebarger led off the inning with a single down the leftfield line. She scored on a McCune double to left-center field. But the Pioneers never threatened again, and the Indians put the contest out of reach with three runs on three hits in the bottom of the sixth to take an 8-3 lead.
The Pioneers score an consolation run in the top of the seventh. Elizabeth Dollar singled to center field, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kristen Gill, and she scored on Winebarger's RBI single.
"We really came out and played well today," said WHS coach Stephanie Kostis. "Our focus was to put pressure on their defense and I feel like we did that. We stressed that in practice yesterday, and I think the players saw how successful it can be. We played some stellar defense. Actually, both sides played well. Saint has a really solid hitting team and they did a nice job fighting off Michalas pitches today. I felt like Michala threw a great game and definitely deserved a better fate.
"If we can come out and play with this type of focus and competitiveness, we can make some noise in the state playoffs. The players believe that they can do something special and you can see it in their eyes. And the way they battled today, all we need is for a break to go our way and we can catch fire."
And the Pioneers will host a first-round state playoff game next week, most likely against Asheville-Roberson (10-9), which is currently the No.2 seed in the Mountain Athletic 3A-4A Conference.
McCune suffered the loss on Tuesday. She went the distance and gave up eight runs, all earned, on 12 hits. She walked three and struck out three.
INDIANS WHIP WHS, 6-3
The Watauga High girls' soccer team suffered a 6-3 loss Tuesday night at home against St. Stephens. The Indians, who clinched the Northwestern 3A-4A Conference championship two weeks ago, scored four consecutive goals, wiping out an early 1-0 WHS (13-4-3 overall; 8-4-1 NW3A-4A) lead.
Olivia Holmes did the majority of the damage as she scored three times during that stretch. Her breakaway goal at the eight-minute mark of the first half put the Indians on top to stay, 2-1. She scored again five minutes later, and her goal at the 24-minute mark of the first half gave the Indians a commanding 4-1 lead.
Sierra Hill, who scored the game's first goal with the contest only two minutes old, Tristen Derrick and Mac Utter scored for the Pioneers. Ashe County comes to town for a non-conference game today; the Pioneers wrap up the regular season at Fred T. Foard Friday night.
WHS won the junior varsity game, 1-0. Ellie Gotfried scored for the Pioneers in the 47th minute.
WHS JV 1, St.Stephens 0
Ellie Gotfried in the 47th min.
St. Stephens 6, WHS Varsity 3
WHS: 2nd min- Sierra Hill from a cross by Tristin Derrick
Saint: 3rd min.- Alex Roarke on a breakaway
Saint 8th min- Olivia Holmes on a breakaway
Saint 13th min- Olivia Holmes
Saint: 24th min- Olivia Holmes
WHS: 26th min- Tristin Derrick from a cross by Kurstan Stang
WHS: 47th min- Mac Utter a strike from 20 yds out
Saint: 63rd min- Hannah Hunt
Saint 64th min- Amanda Hall