Sydney Burton had been spending this week at the beach.
It’s a good thing for the William Byrd High School softball team that she cut short her vacation.
Burton slid home in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Terriers a 3-2 win over Great Bridge in a Class 4 state semifinal Thursday at the Moyer Sports Complex in Salem.
“I just took off [from third] and gave it everything I got to get to that plate to win this ballgame,” she said.
The jubilant Terriers (19-6), who mobbed Burton at home plate, advanced to a state softball title game for the first time ever.
“All the work that we’ve been doing this whole year has finally paid off,” said Burton, whose team lost in the state semifinals last year. “We couldn’t be more excited to show everyone what we’re about.”
The state tournament was supposed to conclude last week but was postponed because of rain.
Burton, a senior, had been spending this week in Myrtle Beach with some friends. She returned home Wednesday night.
“I wouldn’t miss this for anything,” Burton said.
The score was tied at 2 entering the bottom of the seventh.
Burton led off with a double to the left-field wall.
“[The pitch] was right down the middle, if I’m being honest,” she said.
Erin Courtemanche reached base on a fielder’s choice grounder, with Great Bridge (21-4) opting to try to throw out Burton at third. But Burton slid safely under the tag.
The Wildcats intentionally walked Keely Hoal to load the bases with no outs.
Morgan Icard stepped to the plate.
“Stressful,” said Icard, a senior.
What was she thinking?
“Just hit the ball so Sydney can get home,” she said.
Icard lofted a run-scoring sacrifice fly to right field for the walk-off win.
Burton slid safely home, sticking her hand on home plate.
“I popped it right in and out,” Burton said.
Roanoke College recruit Jada Karnes (15-6) pitched a three-hitter for the Terriers. She struck out three and walked two.
“I’m on cloud nine,” Karnes said.
The Wildcats scored a run in the top of the second and added a run in the fourth for a 2-0 lead.
“It definitely sucks to blow a 2-0 lead,” said Great Bridge junior Ana Jarrell, who pitched a four-hitter.
After a fourth-inning error by William Byrd second baseman Morgan Webb brought home the Wildcats’ second run, the Chesapeake school had runners on first and third with just one out in that inning.
Great Bridge coach Kirk Clayton called for a suicide squeeze. Gracie Goodwin took off from third, but batter Haley Roberts could not get the bunt down. Goodwin was tagged out.
With a runner on second, Roberts then struck out to end the top half of that inning.
William Byrd was hitless entering the bottom of the fourth.
“Oh my gosh, it was so nerve-wracking,” Burton said. “But I knew that … we could come back.”
The Terriers scored twice in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game.
Lexi Powell singled to right field and advanced on an error. After Karnes singled, Bri Hodges hit an RBI single to right field. Courtemanche had a sacrifice fly to tie the score.
Karnes retired the final 10 Great Bridge batters.
She was aided during that stretch by good catches by Burton in left field, Icard in right and Elon signee Megan Grant at shortstop.
Three-time defending state champ Woodgrove, which beat Grafton 7-0 in Thursday’s other semifinal, will play William Byrd for the title at 11 a.m. Friday at Moyer.
Woodgrove beat the Terriers 1-0 in last year’s state semifinals.
“Hopefully we’ll get them this year,” Karnes said.
Camryn Dolby, who threw a no-hitter for Woodgrove in last year’s meeting, now pitches for Boston College. But St. John’s signee Max Barnes, who homered in that game, is back.