LEXINGTON, NC – Southern Alamance pounded out 12 hits and ripped off six runs in the decisive sixth inning, stretching their lead out to 11-3 and putting away Alexander Central in the final game of the 3A Softball State Championship Series at North Davidson High School. The Patriots fireworks provided the program with their first State Championship in fast-pitch softball since their only other State Championship in 2004 when they defeated Enka in the final game of the double-elimination State Tournament.
Leading 5-3 at the time, the Patriots’ first six batters reached base in the bottom of the sixth. Southern Alamance sent nine batters to the plate in the inning, pushing across six runs and extending their lead to a seemingly insurmountable eight runs.
Southern Alamance’s top of the order was particularly sharp in the final game of the series. Heather Vaughan went 2 for 4 in the leadoff spot, plating three runs in the game. Greta Hessenthaler was on fire in Game 3, going 3 for 3 at the plate with a pair of RBI and scoring three runs. She also drew a walk to reach base in all four of her plate appearances.
Southern Alamance opened the scoring early, plating a pair in the bottom of the first. Vaughn led off with a single and stole second before Hessenthaler singled to right picking up the first run of the game. Hessenthaler crossed the plate when Brianna Gallagher slapped a single to left giving the Patriots an early 2-0 lead.
Alexander Central answered with two of their own in the top of the third, but a Cougar error in the fourth allowed Rylee Humble to cross the plate and put Southern up 3-2. The Patriots added another pair in the bottom of the fifth when Vaughn singled and Hessenthaler drew a walk before Vaughn singled to drive one home. Another touched home when Duggins drove in a run with an RBI groundout to go up 5-2.
The Cougars were not done, drawing closer in the top of the sixth thanks to an error and a pair of walks that loaded the bases with two outs. Chesney Stikeleather slashed a single to center field to plate Kaylin Marlow and make it 5-3.
The Patriots were led in the series by Isley Duggins who drew the assignment in the pitcher’s circle for the series. Duggins was outstanding in Game 3, allowing three runs, just two earned while scattering three hits and striking out seven Cougar hitters. She struck out 21 in the three-game series, and only allowed 13 hits on her way to being selected as the 3A Softball Series’ Most Valuable Player.
Alexander Central concluded the season 16-5. The Cougars were 10-2 in the Northwestern 3A/4A and participated in the State Fast-pitch Softball Series for the tenth time in program history. They won the school’s fourth Western Regional Championship and appeared in the State Championship Series for the first time since 2018.
Southern Alamance wrapped up their year 17-4. The Patriots were 7-1 in the Mid-Piedmont 3A where they won the league title. Southern participated in their sixth State Fast-pitch Softball Series and won the Eastern Regional Championship for the first time in program history. The Patriots made it to the State Championship Series for the first time since they won it in 2004.