MILLERS CREEK — A strong start gave Wilkes Post 31 the upper hand in the best-of-three Area IV series with an 8-5 win over Shelby Post 82 in the North Carolina American Legion Lady Fastpitch playoffs on June 25 at West Wilkes High School.
The Flashers used back-to-back run-scoring doubles from Lily Proffit (two-run doubles) and Maleah Lovell to build a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the first.
Chloe Andrews, who led Post 31’s 16-hit attack with a 3-for-4 performance, tacked on another run with an RBI single.
All told, the Flashers batted around and collected five of their 16 hits in the opening frame.
Wilkes padded its lead an inning later on the strength of home runs from Proffit and Madison Fletcher.
“You come out and bat around in the first inning, you’ve got to feel good. I felt like everyone that came to the plate had good swings and we really put the pressure on them with a big lead,” said Post 31 head coach Daniel Triplett. “Then, I think we relaxed a little and got a little sloppy and like every coach wants, Shelby just kept chipping away.”
The Flashers also received solid outing from Proffit inside the pitching circle. The rising West Wilkes junior struck out 13 and allowed five hits and four earned runs.
Post 82 threatened in the opening inning when it loaded the bases.
Warlick, who had four of Shelby’s seven hits in the game, scored on a wild pitch for the early lead.
But Proffit and Post 31 avoided further damage as she struck out Alexis Shope to end the inning.
The Foothills Conference Pitcher of the Year settled down after the shaky start as she retired seven of the next eight batters she faced.
“Lily worked hard on the mound keeping them off balance and was really clean through the first four innings, giving up just one run,” said Triplett. “But we’ve went from playing five-inning games to now seven-inning games so your pitchers have a lot more work to do.
“But that’s what we are so blessed with I can bring in Red (Isabelle Curry) or Chloe who are really strong pitchers in their own right,” added Triplett. “We also have a couple other girls that can give us innings, if needed.”
Trailing 8-1 after Presley Dancy’s two-run double in the fourth, Post 82 threatened in the fifth and sixth innings behind a little small ball.
Warlick (infield single) and Ella Shope (bunt single) connected on run-scoring base hits.
Taylor Black — Shelby’s No. 9 hitter — added an RBI double and scored on a wild pitch to trim the deficit to 8-5.
Curry, who shared the conference pitcher of the year award with Proffit, relieved her in the seventh and quickly found herself in a bit trouble after singles from Warlick and Elmore.
But Curry shut the door on Post 82’s comeback bid as she fanned Jaylen Ledbetter to end the game and pick up the save.
Six different Flashers had a at least two hits apiece. In addition to Andrews, Fletcher, Proffit (three RBIs), Dancy, Kacey Triplett and Kylee Martin each finished with two hits. Zoe Cheek went 1-for-2.
“We had a couple long balls from Madi and Lily, along with a scorebook full of hits to go along with the power, we had multiple girls with two or more hits in the game,” said Triplett. “But like I said Shelby just wouldn’t lay down and we felt like it was the right time to bring Red in to close it out and she came in and shut the door for the save.”
Shelby Post 82 100 022 0 — 5 7 0
Wilkes Post 31 420 200 X — 8 16 3
PITCHING: Shelby: Sierra Crocker (6 IP, 16 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 2 BB, 3 K). Wilkes: Lily Proffit (6 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 13 K); Isabelle Curry (1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K). WP: Proffit. LP: Crocker. SV: Curry.
HITTING: Post 82: Sara Warlick 4-4 (2B, RBI); Aidan Ledbetter 1-3 (2B, RBI); Gracie Elmore 1-3; Ella Shope 1-4. Post 31: Chloe Andrews 3-4 (RBI); Lily Proffit 2-3 (HR, 2B, 3 RBI); Madison Fletcher 2-4 (HR, RBI); Kacey Triplett 2-3 (2B); Presley Dancy 2-4 (2B, 2 RBI); Kylee Martin 2-4; Zoe Cheek 1-2.