05/13/18 — Vinson belts walk-off HR for Aycock

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Vinson belts walk-off HR for Aycock

By News-Argus Staff
Published in Sports on May 13, 2018 11:06 AM

PIKEVILLE -- LaVon "Grandad" Matthews walked down the third-base line and said a silent prayer Friday evening.

The Charles B. Aycock softball coach knew his best three hitters were about to step into the batter's box in the bottom of the seventh inning with the team's season on the line.

"I said 'Lord, whichever one you want to hit, it's up to you,'" Matthews said.

It didn't take long to get an answer.

Hannah Vinson dug in her cleats and deposited the first pitch she saw over the wall to cap the Golden Falcons' come-from-behind 6-5 triumph over Topsail in second-round action of the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A playoffs.

Aycock (18-6 overall) returns home Tuesday for a battle with Eastern Carolina 3-A/4-A Conference foe D.H. Conley. The two perennial powerhouses are meeting for the fourth time this season.

"We've been a very interesting team this year," Matthews said. "Nobody expected us to be where we're at right now. The main thing with this team, it doesn't matter how many errors we make or how far we are behind, they feel like they have a chance to win no matter how many outs [are left]."

However, CBA appeared to be in for a long night.

Topsail, the 11th seed, benefited from a pair of first-inning errors and raced to a 3-0 lead.

The sixth-seeded Golden Falcons pecked away at the deficit and cruised ahead in the bottom of the third inning.

Makayla Williams connected on a lead-off single and moved into scoring position on Georgia Parnell's base knock. After a fielder's choice, Vinson and Taylor Puetz pounded out back-to-back doubles to put CBA in front 4-3.

Two critical two-out errors, one each in the fourth and fifth innings, allowed Topsail to gain a 5-4 advantage.

"We could have been out of each inning," Matthews said.

Once again, the Golden Falcons responded.

Puetz drilled a line shot to left field that glanced off of the defender's glove and rolled to the fence. Cassandra Lassiter moved Puetz to third base on a sac fly. Abbey Thomas plated Puetz with an RBI single to create a 5-5 tie.

Topsail failed to score over the next two innings, which set the table for CBA's final at-bat of the night.

Vinson took a few practice swings outside the dugout.

Puetz waited on deck.

Helmet on, Lassiter quietly watched.

"We had the at-bats we wanted coming up and we needed only one," Matthews said.

And Vinson delivered.