The Tornadoes are the 2013 Class 1A state champions.
Following a day which included three epic showdowns with top-ranked Kinston, the Tornadoes emerged victorious over the Bulldogs, 5-0, to earn the school’s first state softball title.
Tournament MVP Grayson Culverson ended her high school career in dominating fashion, shutting out the Bulldogs and giving up six hits and a walk while striking out five Kinston batters in seven innings. For the tournament, Culverson gave up just five runs in 28 and 1/3 innings.
“It feels wonderful to win a state championship after everything we have been through as a team. I knew we could do it and we played hard and worked for it” Culverson said. “Last year my grandmother passed away and I really wanted to win the title this year like I know she had hoped for us — I’m glad we were able to go out and do it.”
Culverson was joined on the Class 1A All-Tournament Team by Makenze Morgan and Baleigh Robertson.
Morgan, whose clutch play at shortstop resulted in countless Kinston outs in the game, led Parrish offensively – going 3 for 4 with two runs scored and an RBI.
“I felt that once we started getting things going at the plate, everything just started to flow naturally for us,” Morgan said. “We took care of the ball on the field and just did what helped us win this year.”
For Parrish coach Chris Harris, the championship is the culmination of a journey that started in 2008 when we took the helm of the program and through a season filled with tough obstacles.
“It’s hard to find words to describe what it feels like. When the game ended and our girls started celebrating, I was overcome with emotion — their hard work, dedication and focus had finally paid off with a championship. They made it happen and I can’t say enough about how special they are to me” Harris said. “When I started coaching 15 years ago, it was my dream to win a state title — and I’m so proud to be able to bring it back to our school and to our community.”
Parrish (40-10) jumped out to a quick start in the first inning as Meleah Smith drove in Savannah Jones and Morgan on a two-run double, giving the Tornadoes a 2-0 lead.
With both sides locked up in defensive struggle through the next three innings, the Tornadoes’ bats exploded in the fifth inning. Morgan, Smith and Culverson each recorded RBI doubles to extend Parrish’s lead to 5-0, which would hold for the final two innings and the program’s first title win.
Smith finished 1 for 3 with a run scored and an RBI for the game, while Nina Tucker was 1 for 3 with a run scored. Culverson was 1 for 3 with an RBI and Jones was 1 for 2 with a run scored.
No. 2 Parrish 4, No. 1 Kinston 3
(Winner’s Bracket final)
The eagerly-anticipated third round match between top-ranked Kinston and No. 2 Parrish lived up to its billing, with the Tornadoes overcoming a 3-2 seventh-inning deficit to beat the Bulldogs 4-3 and advance to the 1A state championship game
Grayson Culverson continued her stellar tournament play in the win for Parrish, giving up five hits, three runs, two walks and struck out three batters in seven innings.
Culverson also provided clutch batting, going 2 for 4 with three RBIs to lead the Tornadoes’ offense.
Makenze Morgan was 2 for 3 with a run scored and Meleah Smith went 1 for 3 with a run scored.
Parrish opened the scoring in the first inning when Culverson drove in Savannah Jones and Smith on a two-run double for the 2-0 lead.
Kinston tied the game, 2-2, with a solo home run in the fourth inning, then followed with a score in the fifth inning for the 3-2 lead.
The Tornadoes began their comeback at the bottom of the seventh inning when Jamie Beth Hocutt scored on an RBI triple from Morgan. Two batters later, Culverson sent Morgan across the plate on the game-winning hit to help Parrish lock up a spot in the championship game.
No. 1 Kinston 7, No. 2 Parrish 3
(First title game)
Top-ranked Kinston forced a second game after defeating Parrish 7-3 in the first championship match.
Jamie Beth Hocutt took the loss for the Tornadoes, giving up eight hits, five runs, a walk and struck out three batters in five and two-thirds innings. Grayson Culverson pitched the initial one-third inning, surrendering two hits and two runs.
Offensively, Makenze Morgan went 2 for 4 with two RBIs to lead Parrish, while Hocutt was 2 for 4 with two runs scored. Savannah Jones, Baleigh Robertson and Ciara Ramsey all went 1 for 3.