CREEDMOOR — For three years, Kasey Newcomb has stifled batters with her fastball paired with an array of off speed pitches. But on Tuesday, she dominated her opposition in a completely different way – by pitching to contact.
The senior captain for South Granville needed just 74 pitches in a 5-0 complete game shutout of Corinth Holders as the Vikings advanced to the third round of the 2A state playoffs. Newcomb gave up just two hits and finished with three strikeouts.
“It was a good game,” Newcomb said. “I felt very comfortable on the mound just knowing that my team’s behind me. I just throw and know that even if they put the ball in play my teammates will pick me up.”
As Newcomb dominated on the mound, the defense behind her was anything but dominant. But three separate defensive gems by sophomore Brandi Celia helped keep Newcomb’s shutout intact.
The right fielder gunned down a runner at first on what would have been the first hit in the second inning and backed up two overthrown balls for two outfield assists at second base in the third and fourth innings, both plays that would have resulted in two players in scoring position.
Celia, who had just 10 hits in 29 at bats on the season heading into the game, followed up her stellar defense with an opposite field solo home run in the fifth inning to cushion the lead for the Lady Vikings.
“We needed that backup and I was just there like I needed to be,” Celia said. “We practice that every day, so it just comes normal to me. When other people aren’t hitting, we know we have to pull each other up. So I just went up there trying to get a big hit and it worked out.”
After Erin Boone started the game with a walk and Newcomb reached on a liner through the left side, Taylor Boyd shot one through the right side to put the first run on the board.
An error in the Pirates’ outfield allowed Boyd to score, and Jenna Davis came home on a triple by Savannah Tilley. That early start helped relieve the tension for the Vikings, according to coach Jackie Day.
“At this point, it’s anybody’s game so getting off to that start really helped,” Day said. “We stressed the whole season that they play loose and they’ll play better. They know we don’t micromanage them and they’ve stayed that way all season.”
Jessica King got the first hit for the Pirates in the third inning, which was followed up by a fielder’s choice hit by Kris Neal, but Neal was picked off at second for the final out of the inning after trying to advance on an infield error. The Pirates met the same fate in the fourth inning despite getting two runners on with one out.
On the other side, Corinth Holders pitcher Kayla Meares slowed the Vikings bats for three scoreless innings.
“Kayla really kept us in this one in those middle innings,” Pirates coach Don Andrews said. “Because honestly I thought after that first inning we were going to get blown out. I was very proud of our composure and outside of some mental mistakes we were in this ballgame.”
Meares was touched up in the fifth and sixth for runs on Celia’s solo shot and a triple by Alease Daniel that scored Tilley for the final run of the game, sending South Granville to the third round of the playoffs against Southeastern on Friday.