ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. - CHAMPIONS! The LaGrange softball team beat William Peace 11-1 in the deciding game Sunday at the Rocky Mount Sports Complex to capture its first USA South Tournament championship.
With the win, the Panthers (23-14) earned the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament. The location of where the Panthers will play will be announced later. This is the fourth trip to the national tournament for the softball team and the first since 2009.
William Peace (23-15-1), the number two seed in the tournament, forced the deciding game with a 10-4 win in the first game of the day. The Pacers scored all 10 runs in the fifth inning to wipe out a 3-0 Panther lead.
But whatever momentum from the game William Peace had evaporated in the first inning of the second game.
Batting first, the Panthers sent 13 batters to the plate in taking a 7-0 lead. Olivia Wolfe's three-run home run opened the scoring. Brooke Turner added a run-scoring double and Christy Flick drove in two more runs with a single.
Dani Gravett (9-1), making her first start of the tournament, ran into trouble in the second inning. The Pacers loaded the bases with no outs, but Gravett pitched out of the jam with only one run scoring.
The Panthers used the long ball to close out the scoring in the fifth. Gravett hit a two-out two-run home run to up the lead to 9-1. After a single by Danielle Newbern, Wolfe followed with another two-run blast to make it 11-1. The home run was Wolfe's fourth of the tournament.
Gravett then retired the Pacers in order in the bottom of the inning to end the game on the 8-run mercy rule.
Gravett was named the tournament Most Valuable Player. She batted .500 (9-for-18) with three home runs, seven RBIs and scored eight runs.
Flick, Newbern, Wolfe, and Lindsey Hogan joined Gravett on the All-Tournament team.