Sammy Batten Staff writer @FO_SammyBatten

The Cape Fear Colts haven’t been challenged down to the final out often this season while winning their first 25 games and rising to No. 2 in the national girls’ high school softball rankings produced by USA Today.

But when that time came Friday in the fourth round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association’s 4-A playoffs, the Colts responded to earn a third trip to the Eastern Regional in four years.

South Central rallied for three runs to tie Cape Fear in the top of the seventh inning, but the Colts loaded the bases in the bottom half with two outs for senior catcher Kayla Molivas to deliver the game-wining hit in a 7-6 victory at Doris Howard Field.

Molivas, who had gone 0-for-3 in her previous at bats, laced a 1-1 pitch from South Central’s Abigayle Rowell into center field to drive home pinch runner Kaylee Tanner with the winning score. The hit sends Cape Fear (26-0) into the Eastern finals against Southern Alamance, which defeated Greenville Conley on Friday. The best-of-three series will start at Cape Fear on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

The Colts entered Friday having allowed just one run in three previous state playoff games and 34 overall this season.

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