© 2024. Randolph Hub. All Rights Reserved.


After Grat Dalton crossed the plate with the winning run, game-winning hit earner Jose Ramirez’s Eagle teammates mob him on the field for a 4-3 victory.   Eric Abernathy/Randolph Hub

Keeping the dream alive

ASHEBORO — Any victory in the fourth round of the state tournament means a special memory for the winning team. Some wins, however, are just a little more impressive.


The Uwharrie Charter Academy baseball team and the Southwestern Randolph High School softball team enjoyed special victories last Friday night as wins lifted each team into the Western Regional Championship series slated to begin this week.


The Eagles scored a run in the bottom of the seventh to tie their game with Christ the King and then used a game-winning RBI double from Jose Ramirez in the eighth for a thrilling 4-3 victory over the Crusaders for their 18th straight victory.


Second-seeded UCA (24-5) battles top-seeded Mount Airy this week in the best-of-three West Region finals.


The Cougars, who fell to West Wilkes in the fourth round last year, gained some revenge as Macie Crutchfield hurled a shutout and Madelyn Smith tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly from Alyssa Harris in the top of the seventh in SWR’s 1-0 win over top-seeded and previously undefeated West Wilkes.


SWR, the fourth seed, plays second-seeded North Stanly in the West Region finals.


The UCA baseball team trailed 3-1 before scoring once in the sixth, once in the seventh and once in the eighth for the victory.


“The experience our guys have, especially our five seniors, this deep into the playoffs …,” UCA Rob Shore said. “It’s like I preach — stay cool, calm and collected. Adversity is going to happen, but that's what grows your game. Being in moments like this.”


UCA cut a 3-1 deficit by scoring once in the sixth on a RBI hit from Grat Dalton.


After turning a bases-loaded double play in the top of the seventh, UCA used a walk to Walker Wilkins and a throwing error to tie the game at 3-3. UCA failed to deliver the winning run despite having a runner on third and no one out, but the Eagles regrouped in the eighth as Dalton singled, went to second on a bunt from Landon Zephir and scored on a line-drive double by Ramirez.


“I got it off the sweet spot and really didn’t even feel it,” said Ramirez, who had three hits in the contest. “I just kept the same approach.”


At West Wilkes High School, Smith’s triple leading off the seventh of a scoreless game gave Harris the opportunity to drive in the only run of the contest. Crutchfield then retired the side in order as the Cougars improved to 19-6 with their seventh straight victory.


Smith’s triple was the only hit SWR recorded in the contest. 


“They were undefeated and we lost six games, they're the number one seed and we’re number four,” SWR coach Toby Strider said. “No one thought we could win except us. I told them just stay in the game and we can get it. Then in the seventh, I told them all we had to do was win the seventh inning, one inning, and we would win.”


The Cougars did win the seventh inning and Crutchfield and the Cougars made it stand up.


“I felt like Ric Flair,” Strider said after the win. “I was pumped. Wooo!”


Crutchfield allowed two hits and fanned 11.  


Most of the game was played in the rain, which was heavy at some points.


“She was frustrated because the ball was so wet the first few innings,” Strider said of his pitcher. “She was missing some pitches and she was battling that. She is a competitor. Macie is just Macie. She is the ultimate competitor. The ball Madelyn hit was the hardest she hit all year and Harris keeps coming up with big-time at bats.”