Gates ladies advance to Final 4

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 30, 2007

WILLIAMSTON – The season’s end was literally one strike away.

Trailing 2-0 with no runners on and facing an 0-2 count, senior Alexis Gallop did the almost unimaginable. She worked the count full and then laced a single to center to keep the Lady Red Barons alive.

Gallop’s heroics and similar gutsy performances at the plate by Jalisa Bradley, Megan Askew and Amanda Brown, helped the Barons tie the contest and then go on to a 3-2 win over Williamston in nine innings.

“I knew we could still do it,” Gates County skipper Lulu Eure said. “We have the heart. We let down and let them score, but it was our turn.”

She said she felt the key was continuing to play the way they did to arrive in the eastern semifinals of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 1-A playoffs.

“We just had to play our game,” she said. “Our defense is generally very good and I knew we would be okay.”

Trailing 2-0 heading into the top of the seventh inning, the Barons had two good hits, but both resulted in outs.

Then Gallop stepped to the plate. After getting behind 0-2, she worked the count full and then singled to center. She took second on a wild pitch and then scored when Bradley, also a senior, laced a single to left.

Askew then singled on the infield, a hard-hit ball that went by the third baseman and was collected by the shortstop too late to make any play.

Brown then singled to right, scoring Bradley and tying the contest at 2-all.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Lady Tigers put a runner on first thanks to an error, but Red Baron pitcher Courtney Hobbs induced a pop fly and then struck out a batter to end the threat.

Williamston threatened again in the bottom of the eighth with a leadoff single, but a groundout, a strikeout and a fielder’s choice ended the inning.

With one out in the top of the ninth, Bradley singled to left and stole second. She moved to third on an Askew groundout and then scored on Brown’s RBI-single, giving the Lady Barons a 3-2 lead.

Williamston appeared to be ready to tie or win the game in the bottom of the ninth when they loaded the bases with one out.

Hobbs, however, was unfazed, drawing a ground ball to Gallop, who went home for the second out.

Hobbs then struck out the final batter as Gates County celebrated a 3-2 victory and advanced to the Eastern Finals where they will meet Pender County High School. Pender defeated East Bladen 2-1 in extra innings on Friday as well.

Gates County threatened in the first inning of the contest against Williamston.

Gallop led off the game with a base hit to right-center field and moved to second when Bradley reached on an error. Amanda Lilley drew a walk to load the bases, but a groundout ended the inning.

While the Lady Barons were scrambling on offense, Hobbs was cruising on the mound, allowing just one hit in the opening three innings.

The Lady Tigers touched Hobbs for two hits in the fourth, but she quickly settled back down, striking out one and inducing a ground ball to end the inning.

Williamston scored their first run in the bottom of the fifth on a hit batter and a two-base-error. They added another mark in the bottom of the sixth on an error, but not before Gallop made an extraordinary diving catch to record the inning’s second out.

“She’s been like that all year,” Eure said of Hobbs. “She’s just consistent. She gets it done.”

The Lady Red Barons will face off with Pender at Walnut Creek’s softball complex on Friday. Additional information was not available as of press time.