The York Challengers withstood a gritty effort from Clover’s Carolina Girls to capture the 15U Tournament championship at Rock Hill’s Cherry Park.
The Challengers prevailed 9-8 in the June 26 game, clinching an unbeaten season when Emily Necklen drew a bases-loaded walk, sending teammate Makala Love across the plate with the winning run.
A clutch two-run single by Charday Leonard knotted the score at 8-8, setting the stage for the wild finish
Trailing 6-5 in the top of the fourth inning, Clover pushed across three runs in building an 8-6 lead.
Natalee Graham got things started when she reached base on an error. Madi Macneil stepped to the plate and delivered a double, scoring Graham and tying the score.
Jessa Morgan followed with a run-scoring single and later scored on a wild pitch to push Clover ahead 8-6.
The Carolina Girls assumed a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Macneil singled and Morgan reached on an infield single. Joslin Deeks reached on a throwing error, scoring Macneil.
Casey Eagan’s infield single sent Deeks across the plate with run number two.
The Challengers scored in the bottom of the inning when Love tripled and came home on an error.
Clover struck again in the second inning when Macneil singled, scoring Destiney Moss and Graham and expanding the Carolina Girls’ lead.
But the Challengers were equal to the task, rallying from behind in the bottom of the inning.
Makenzie Bailey doubled, scoring Makenna Bryant. Following a single by Emma Leslie, Madison Bryant singled, scoring Makenzie. Leonard also had a key hit as the Challengers tied the score.
The York team moved ahead 6-5 in the third when Lesslie’s double scored Necklen.
Challengers head coach Torance Leonard was all smiles after the game.
“It was a great game,” said Leonard. “Clover came to play and played very well. Our kids fought from behind to finish the season undefeated.”
He added: “The kids did a super job. It was a close game from start to finish, which is the way it should be in a championship game.”
Leonard commended assistant coaches Angela Matthews, Stanley Love, Brian Bryant, Danielle Ervin and Rick Necklen for their contributions.
Carolina Girls head coach Jeff Anderson lauded the Clover players for an outstanding season.
“Our kids started the season slow and came together,” noted Anderson. “They worked hard and played hard. They are a coachable group.”