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Garner blows out Weddington to win its first NCHSAA 4A softball state championship

Garner High School won its first NCHSAA 4A fast-pitch state championship Saturday. For the second straight game, Weddington, with just five seniors on a 17-player roster, looked like a young team not accustomed to playing in the big game.

Weddington lost Game 1 of the best-of-3 series Friday night, 3-1, after an uncharacteristic run of errors and poor decisions. That loss ended a six-game win streak where the Warriors had reached their first state championship — just four years after they went through a season without winning a game.

In Game 2, which began at 11 a.m. Saturday morning, Weddington had to win to force a deciding Game 3 later that day, but things just didn’t go well. The Warriors again played tight. Garner hit two home runs and knocked a third ball against the outfield wall, winning 12-1 in decisive fashion.

The game was stopped after the fifth inning due to the 10-run rule.

Weddington (22-4) had not allowed a team to score more than three runs in a game all season. Garner (27-3) scored three times in the second inning and six in the fourth.

Garner’s Leigh Anna Carter (7) and teammates rush home plate to congratulate Ella Siemiaczko (9) after her three-run home in the second inning. The Garner Trojans and the Weddington Warriors met in the NCHSAA 4A Softball Championship Series in Greensboro, N.C. on June 1, 2024.
Garner’s Leigh Anna Carter (7) and teammates rush home plate to congratulate Ella Siemiaczko (9) after her three-run home in the second inning. The Garner Trojans and the Weddington Warriors met in the NCHSAA 4A Softball Championship Series in Greensboro, N.C. on June 1, 2024.

And the Warriors’ problems started early.

Weddington’s starting pitcher walked three batters in the first inning and a throwing error put Garner’s Gabriella Mizelle into scoring position. Mizelle later scored on a sacrifice fly from Brittany Stephens.

In the second inning, Garner starting pitcher Gabriella Czuczuk reached on a single and advanced on Weddington’s third error of the game. After a successful bunt from Alyssa Myer, Mizelle came up later, with one out, and smacked a three-run homer to left.

In the fourth, the most damaging inning, Garner built on its lead.

Brittany Stephens hit a single against the wall that scored two runners. The next batter, Lily Keefer, smacked a homer to right, holding her right arm up in celebration as the ball took off and her built an 8-0 lead.

Keefer knew it was gone as soon as she hit it.

And by then, everybody knew it.

Garner was the state champ.

Notable

Weddington’s Samy Lamantia (1) celebraes with teammates in the dugout after a play in the first inning. The Garner Trojans and the Weddington Warriors met in the NCHSAA 4A Softball Championship Series in Greensboro, N.C. on June 1, 2024.
Weddington’s Samy Lamantia (1) celebraes with teammates in the dugout after a play in the first inning. The Garner Trojans and the Weddington Warriors met in the NCHSAA 4A Softball Championship Series in Greensboro, N.C. on June 1, 2024.
  • In the bottom of the second, down 4-0, Weddington had runners on first and second with one out. Reece Lindsay was called out, apparently trying to steal third while Lane Arthur was at bat. After some discussion, Lindsay was initially allowed to remain at third, but officials eventually called she was out. Immediately after that, Arthur smacked a single to right. UNC commit Jadyn Howell moved to third. But with two outs and runners on first and third, Garner pitcher Gabriella Czuczuk got a ground out from Ava McCauley to end the inning.

  • Garner won its first state title Saturday but the Trojans have played on the final weekend before. In 2004, when the NCHSAA used a “Final Four” format, playing the Eastern and Western Regional championships and state finals on the same weekend, Garner reached the final weekend of play. The Trojans were eliminated during the double-elimination format. Central Cabarrus beat Cape Fear 1-0 for the title that year.

  • Weddington should be a state title favorite again next year, returning the bulk of its team, incluidng sophomore pitcher Joella Thomas.

  • Before the best-of-3 series, Weddington had allowed just 20 runs all year. Garner scored 13 in two games.

PHOTOS: Weddington vs. Garner softball