TROY — Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good.
And sometimes it is nice to be both.
That is what happened to the Rockingham Angels all-star team in its contest with Hope Mills Monday night in the Dixie Softball state tournament in Troy.
Despite striking out 13 times against Hope Mills pitcher Alexza Glemaker, Rockingham pulled out a 2-1 victory to remain undefeated in the tournament.
“That was the best team we have played,” Rockingham coach Michael Way said.
Rockingham scored its only runs of the contest in the fourth inning. Kenleigh Frye started the rally with a two-out single up the middle. Allyiah Swiney followed with a pop up in the middle of the infield.
The ball dropped in the pitcher’s circle between third baseman Amanda Blackburn and Glemaker, and Blackburn picked up the ball and tried to throw Frye out at third. The ball skipped away from shortstop Nina McFayden and into left field, allowing Frye to race home and Way waved Swiney home as well.
Those were the only runs Rockingham’s starting pitcher Natalia Rodrigues would need — even though she didn’t match the strikeout numbers her counterpart was putting up, Rodrigues was effective for Rockingham. Rodrigues hurled all five innings, struck out four and didn’t allow a hit. Rodrigues walked five and the only run she allowed was unearned.
Way said Rockingham’s defense was needed against Hope Mills.
“Pitching and defense — that’s how you beat a good team,” he said.
Rockingham escaped a threat in the opening inning by turning a rare 6-5-4 double play. With runners on first and second, Hope Mills’ Cameran Davan grounded to Swiney, who threw to Katie Way to force the runner at third. Way then threw to second to get the final out of the frame.
Hope Mills scored its lone run in the bottom of the fifth as DeNaira Williams reached third on an error and scored on a ground out.
Rockingham will return to action 7 p.m. today when it faces Anson County.
Ponytails continue to roll
TROY — The Rockingham Ponytails allowed its first run of the state tournament, but it didn’t matter in the end as it breezed to an 11-1 win over Dunn Monday afternoon.
Madison Jordan, Paige Ransom and Payton Chappell were all 2-for-3 in the win for Rockingham. Ragan Liles and Laney McLaurin each had a hit as well in the win.
In the pitcher’s circle, Jadyn Johnson, Liles and Ransom combined on the one-hitter.
Rockingham will square off with West Stanly at 7 p.m. today. In the District 4 tournament, Rockingham no-hit West Stanly to capture the district title.
Darlings eliminated from tourney
TROY — For the second contest, the Rockingham Darlings all-star team was beaten in the bottom of the fifth.
Sunday night, Dunn pulled out a 10-9 victory after scoring a run in its final at-bat.
The same thing happened Monday afternoon as Duplin County knocked off Rockingham 8-7. The loss eliminated Rockingham from the state tournament.
Rockingham Dixie Boys postponed
SOUTHPORT — The Rockingham Dixie Boys all-star team had its game with Columbus County postponed because of rain.
The contest is now set for 4:30 p.m. today.
Reach managing editor Shawn Stinson at 910-817-2671 and follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.