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Late surge propels Cavs

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Entering the fourth with one hit and a 2-1 lead, Carroll County erupted for a 16-1 win over Graham.

By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

HILLSVILLE -- Having already posted a 23-0 win against Graham earlier this year, Carroll County got the result it was probably expecting when the two teams met in the Southwest District softball quarterfinals Monday. The outcome just came in a roundabout manner. Limited to one hit and leading just 2-1 by the time the middle of the fourth inning rolled around, Carroll County exploded for 11 runs and added three more in the fifth to take a 16-1, five-inning win over the G-Girls. The victory propelled the third-seeded Cavaliers (11-7) into the district semifinals, where they faced No. 2 Abingdon Tuesday. Autumn Hill’s double leading off the bottom of the first was Carroll County’s only base hit through the first three innings, and though Hill was stranded, the Cavaliers picked up a pair of runs in the second without benefit of a base hit. A squeeze bunt by Ragan Halsey scored Autumn Hill, and Danielle Spence later scooted home on a wild pitch. “We hit the ball hard right at them, but we had no energy. No life,” Carroll County coach Terry Warf said. “It just took something to get them excited.” Graham had just cut the lead in half in the top of the fourth, coupling two singles with a two-out throwing error, when Carroll County broke out in its half of the frame. The first five Cavaliers to step into the box rapped base hits, including deep doubles by Halsey, Hill and Jordan Nunn. Hill’s drive to center plated a pair of runs, Lexi Hodge lined an RBI single to left and scored on Nunn’s bash into the leftfield corner. “They finally got in tune with the pitcher and hit the ball hard,” Warf said. “We struggle against slower pitching for some reason.” A Graham pitching change, lifting starter Liz Rasnake for the much harder-throwing Chrystal Dickens, did little to stem the rally as five more Cavaliers reached in succession on a walk, an error and singles by Lillie Kimble, Spence and Halsey. All five scored to widen the lead to 10-1 before the G-Girls recorded the first out of the inning, an Amber Cannaday sacrifice fly that plated Spence. Nunn later drilled a two-run triple to center as the Cavs took a 13-1 lead after four. Carroll County brought an early end to the afternoon in the bottom of the fifth. Ashley Willard reached third on a single and a two-base error, scoring on a Spence ground-out, and Hill ended the game on the 15-run rule with a two-out, two-run base hit up the middle. Hill and Halsey each had three hits to pace the Carroll County offense, with Hill driving in four runs. Nunn went 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Hill also picked up the win in the circle, limiting the G-Girls to four singles and one unearned run. She struck out three and walked two to improve to 4-1 on the year.   Southwest District tournament quarterfinals
Graham................000   1  0–– 1    4   5 Carroll County......020  (11)3––16  13  1

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Rasnake, Dickens (3) and Galati. Hill and Nunn. WP – Hill. LP – Rasnake. 3B – Nunn. 2B – Hill 2, Halsey, Nunn.