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East Lincoln rallies past Western Alamance to win first NCHSAA 3-A softball title

Taniyah Thomas named series MVP; Mustangs finish season 25-3
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GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA – After overcoming an early deficit in Game 2, the East Lincoln Mustangs came out hot in Game 3 and claimed a 12-7 win against the Western Alamance Warriors to win the 3A NCHSAA Softball State Championship.

East Lincoln fell in Game 1 on Friday night 6-4 on a walk-off home run, then rallied to score four runs in the fifth inning of Game 2 and held on for a 4-3 win to force a decisive final game in the best-of-three series.

In Game 3, East Lincoln plated three runs in the top of the first inning as Tatum Martin, Betsy Eatmon and Madison Currence each hit RBI singles and they added two more runs in the second thanks to a sac fly from Martin and another RBI single from Eatmon. After five more runs in the third, the Mustangs were leading 10-2.

East Lincoln SS Taniyah Thomas went 4-for-5 and scored five times and was named series MVP. Martin ended up 4-for-4 with four RBIs and Lyla Haywood went 3-for-3 with a run scored.

Taniyah Thomas (left) poses with NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker after winning the MVP award for the 3-A softball state championship series.

Taniyah Thomas (left) poses with NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker after winning the MVP award for the 3-A softball state championship series.

For the Warriors, 2B Kara Alday went 2-for-3 with two homers and four RBIs and Taylor Apple added a two-run shot as well.

The Mustangs forced Game 3 with a comeback win in Game 2 on Saturday.

Western Alamance’s Taylor Apple gave the Warriors an early lead as she had three RBIs on a double and a home run in the first three innings. In the fifth, the Mustangs came alive at the plate. Tatum Marin singled to center to score Aubrey Gust and then scored alongside Taniyah Thomas when Betsy Eatmon doubled in the next at bat. Brylee Belcher came on the run for Eatmon and she scored when Jaelyn Freeston singled, giving East Lincoln the lead.

East Lincoln’s Leah Correll earned the win in the circle as she gave up three runs on six hits with 11 strikeouts.

Leah Correll had 11 strikeouts in Game 2 to help East Lincoln force a decisive third game in the NCHSAA 3-A softball championship series.

Leah Correll had 11 strikeouts in Game 2 to help East Lincoln force a decisive third game in the NCHSAA 3-A softball championship series.

In Game 1 Friday night, Jillian Brunton turned on the first pitch she saw in the bottom of the eighth inning and sent it over the center field fence for a two-run homer that gave Western Alamance a 6-4 walk-off win. 

Jillian Brunton of Western Alamance was the hero in Game 1, blasting a 2-run homer to give the Warriors a 6-4 win.

Jillian Brunton of Western Alamance was the hero in Game 1, blasting a 2-run homer to give the Warriors a 6-4 win.

Brunton, a senior shortstop, finished the game 3-for-4 with four runs and three RBIs. Starting pitcher Taylor Apple also had a strong game at the plate as she went 2-for-2 with two walks, an RBI and a run scored on Brunton’s walk-off dinger.

In the circle, Apple struck out 11 and allowed four runs on eight hits in the complete-game effort.

Taylor Apple was stellar in the circle and at the plate during the NCHSAA 3-A softball state championship series.

Taylor Apple was stellar in the circle and at the plate during the NCHSAA 3-A softball state championship series.

For the Mustangs, 1B Tatum Martin went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and RF Aubrey Gust went 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored.

The title is the first in program history for the Mustangs and they ended their 2023 campaign 25-3. Western Alamance finished the year 23-5.

The NCHSAA is committed to recognizing and promoting good sportsmanship and has partnered with the NC Farm Bureau to honor two student-athletes at each of this year’s championships with Sportsmanship Awards for excellence throughout the season. The 3A Softball Sportsmanship Award winners were Jillian Brunton from Western Alamance and Betsy Eatmon from East Lincoln