Bunker Hill Bears 10U Softball placed runner-up in the Western North Carolina State Championship held in Marion July 5-7.
The Bunker Hill Bears were led by head coach David Ryhal and assistant coaches Richard Setzer, Jay Thurman and Steve “Pawpaw” Beal.
The Bears were regular season co-champions with Balls Creek, going 10-1 in the regular season in the Catawba County League which fielded teams from Mt. View, Banoak, St Stephens, Balls Creek, Bunker Hill and Maiden. Bunker Hill was the only team to go to the area tournament which was held in Davidson County June 28-29.
The area tournament hosted Davidson, Alexander and Bunker Hill teams in a three-team double-elimination tourney, with Davidson winning the first two games over Bunker Hill and Alexander.
Alexander and Bunker Hill met the next morning, with Bunker Hill's victory over Alexander solidifying a Bunker Hill and Davidson area championship game in which Davidson won 12-6 over Bunker Hill.
Davidson and Bunker Hill advanced to the state playoffs, fielding teams from Hominy Valley, Henderson, McDowell and Mathews Area Recreation Association (MARA). In a six-team double-elimination tournament, Bunker Hill and Hominy Valley were the first game on July 4 with Bunker Hill winning 15-5 by run rule in the fourth inning. The same day Bunker Hill toppled MARA 7-4 in a close contest, sending both teams to the loser's bracket.
With Davidson handing Henderson and McDowell losses on the first day, Bunker Hill and Davidson would meet again on July 5. In one of the best games of the tournament, Davidson won a highly contested battle 12-11 against the Bears.
With Bunker Hill falling into the loser's bracket, Hominy Valley fought back to face the Bears in a third-place showdown on July 6. Bunker Hill started the morning trailing Hominy Valley until a 1 hour, 10-minute rain delay in the second inning.
After the showers, the momentum shifted to Bunker Hill, which won 8-7 after the time limit expired. Bunker Hill saw Davidson for a fourth time in two weeks in the state title contest. Both teams saw big runs put up in the first and second innings, but the game became a pitchers' duel in the last four innings with Davidson ultimately taking the win by an 18-11 score.
“At the first practice we had one girl show up with no equipment to play and one which didn’t know which hand to throw with,” said Rhyal. “ These girls have stayed committed throughout the spring with three-day-a-week practices and have shown nothing but heart by not giving up on themselves all season long. They are truly deserving of where they finished and it was something special to watch.”
Jay Thurman is an assistant coach for the Bunker Hill Bears.