ASHEBORO — It may have been the passing of a torch of sorts last Friday night in the second round of the state 2-A softball playoffs when Southwestern Randolph High School hosted Providence Grove, but what it really was were two spectacular pitchers facing off for the fourth time this season.
And for the fourth time, SWR’s Macie Crutchfield and the Cougars got the better of Emma Mazzarone and the Patriots.
Crutchfield threw a no-hitter and the Cougars put together another impressive showing, scoring runs in each of the first three innings for a 5-0 victory, sending SWR to third-round state playoff action. The win improved the second-seeded Cougars to 21-1 overall, while 15th-seeded PG saw its season end at 14-9.
The Cougars were scheduled to host that third-round playoff game Tuesday night against No. 10 Mount Pleasant (16-10).
Crutchfield was masterful once again against the Patriots, as the sophomore right-hander walked one and struck out 14.
“I didn’t know I had a no-hitter,” Crutchfield said. “I felt great out there. We had a bunch of runs and when we score like that, I’m not anxious, I’m more calm. Everything was working, especially my two-seam.”
Mazzarone, a senior left-hander who is heading to Virginia Tech in the fall, ended one of the most productive high school softball careers in NCHSAA history by allowing eight hits and four earned runs while striking out 13.
Added to the 19 she fanned in Tuesday’s first-round 1-0 win over West Caldwell in eight innings, Mazzarone struck out 32 of the 42 outs recorded in the two contests. She ended her senior season with 280 strikeouts in 142 innings pitched.
“You have to give props to Providence Grove and to Emma Mazzarone,” SWR coach Chad Whitson said. “She’s a great kid and a great player. We came out focused and were able to do some good things. We hit it when we needed to and made plays when we needed to.”
The Cougars scored single runs in each of the first three innings. Ky Perdue singled, stole second, went to third on a sacrifice and scored on a grounder from Maddison Varner in the first inning. Although SWR added single runs in the second and third innings and two more in the fifth, Crutchfield needed just that one.
“I can’t say enough about these girls,” Whitson said. “We use that word ‘focus’ and we preached that all year long. A lot of times this far into the season, they could lose track a little bit. We preach it and they grasped a hold of it and it’s live or die now.”
Perdue finished with three hits, three runs scored, one RBI and three stolen bases. Varner knocked in two runs and Carleigh Whitson also had one RBI.