FAYETTEVILLE — The matchup lived up to the hype.
When the dust settled after nine hard-fought innings, Cape Fear remained undefeated and Richmond watched its perfect season come to an end.
The Colts moved into next week’s 4A East Region finals with a 2-1 victory, but they needed to rally to do it.
The Raiders (28-1) scored a single run in the top of the ninth as pinch runner Haleigh Denham raced home on a wild pitch.
But the “softball gods” as Richmond coach Wendy Wallace said soon turned their backs on the visiting team.
“We had the part of the lineup we wanted up (for them),” Wallace said. “You have to give them credit, they got the hits when they needed them.”
Savannah Melvin opened the bottom of the ninth with a check-swing bloop single to left. After a strikeout, Kaylee Carter singled to left.
Then the gods intervened for the Colts.
Carley Green ripped a ground ball right at Richmond shortstop Ashton Davenport. As Davenport was setting up for a possible double play to end the game, the ball took a bad hop for a single to load the bases.
“It was unlucky,” Davenport said. “Bad hops happened. You can’t read the field.”
Natalie Jones tied the game at 1 with a single to left with the top of the Cape Fear lineup heading to the plate.
It didn’t take long for the Colts to win the contest as Haley Cashwell slapped a 3-2 pitch to short. Davenport dove to field the ball, but was unable to cut down courtesy runner Kayla Molivas at home.
“We have them all we had,” Davenport said. “They got lucky.”
Summer Jacobs and Mary Williams were locked in a pitchers’ duel for eight innings as each had allowed just four hits to a scoreless game.
Richmond’s best opportunity to score before extra innings came fourth inning. Jacobs singled to open the frame and courtesy runner Taylor Davis moved to second on a wild pitch. Jessica Steen dropped a sacrifice bunt to move Davis to third with one out, but Williams struck out Katie Satterfield and Chelsea Davis to end the threat.
Cape Fear had a baserunner on third with one in both the first and third, but were unable to break into the scoring column. Williams hit into a double play in the first, lining out to Davenport, who doubled up Cashwell at third. In the third, Jacobs coaxed Kellie Freeman to fly out and Williams to ground out to escape without giving up a run.
Cape Fear (25-0) will advance to Middle Creek in the East Region finals. Middle Creek downed West Johnston 5-4.
Reach sports editor Shawn Stinson at 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.