History is being made with every win but this one was a little extra special for the Gray Collegiate softball team.
The War Eagles used home runs from Brooke Tranum and Brooklinn Thomas to cruise past Crescent 11-7 in the Class 2A Upper State championship and into the state championship series for the first time in school history.
Gray Collegiate will face Latta beginning on Monday in the best two-of-three series.
“Our school doesn’t have a lot of history, so I get really excited whenever we get to make that history,” said Tranum, a College of Charleston signee. “We get to leave the legacy for others to continue.”
The championship game appearance continues the stellar athletic year for Gray Collegiate. Football and boys basketball won state championships and the baseball team will begin its quest for the first state title on the road Saturday at Andrew Jackson. The boys soccer team lost in the finals to Christ Church a week ago.
That athletic success has been fun to a part of but doesn’t add any extra pressure according to coach Doug Frye.
“It’s no pressure,” Fry said. “We’ve been winning a lot, we just haven’t gotten over the hump. We make it into the playoffs and sometimes our bats just quit. This team here, one through nine, can flat stroke the ball.”
Frye said the failures of the last couple of seasons has been a driving force for this team.
“We felt like we left something out there,” Frye said of last year. “I told them after we lost that last game last year, remember that feeling you got. You don’t want that again. Let’s come back, fight, and get after it. We want to take this thing home.”
Eight of the nine War Eagle starters collected at least one hit and six drove in at least one run. Tranum and Shields Green paced the 11-hit attack with three hits each with Tranum and Thomas leading the way with three RBIs each.
It was a back-and-forth contest with three lead changes early. The War Eagles (24-4) took control in the middle innings before holding a late rally by the Tigers.
Crescent (24-5) took a 4-3 lead in the fourth before Gray Collegiate rallied with three runs to take the lead for good. Kaley Anderson drove in two runs with a sharp single to right field to make it 5-4. Madox Long later scored on a sacrifice fly by Madison Knapper.
An inning later, Tranum hit a towering 2-run home run to center field to increase the lead to 8-4. Crescent had one final rally in them and made it 8-7 going into the bottom of the sixth.
MJ Stradinger and Greene singled with one out before Thomas hit a line-shot over the wall in center field. That was enough for Taylor Corley to work the complete-game victory and position Gray Collegiate to make additional history.
“We’ve had some good teams here,” Frye said. “We’ve had some not as quite as good as this one, but you have to be lucky. That’s a very good team over there. They fought, we fought. These girls have worked hard since August. They deserve what they get. They’ve put the time in.”
WP: Taylor Corley. LP: Courtney Baldwin. Hitters: CG – Brooklinn Thomas 2-5, HR, 3 RBIs; Brooke Tranum 3-4, HR, 3 RBIs; Kaley Anderson 2 RBIs; Shields Greene 3-4. C – Emily Blackwell 3-4, 2B, 4 RBI; Jenna Davis 2-4; Taniyah Smith 3-4