Wheels fall off against unbeaten West Forsyth

Published 8:37 am Thursday, April 2, 2015

In a showdown against visiting West Forsyth, we got a glimpse of the Davie softball team’s potential as it took a 1-0 lead into the top of the fourth inning against an unbeaten opponent.

A glimpse was it, however.

The War Eagles crumbled in the fourth, allowing seven runs, and lost 8-3. It was 0-0 after two innings. Davie grabbed the lead in the bottom of the third. At that point, the contest had the tense feel of a playoff game. But West scored seven fourth-inning runs on six hits, three walks and an error and it was suddenly all but over.

“The wheels fell off and fell off hard,” coach Dawn Lowery said. “We made a couple critical errors at bad times. I feel like a broken record, but we can’t beat teams of that caliber making errors like that and getting outhit that bad. Plain and simple, they were better than us on March 23. It doesn’t mean that’s going to be the case come April 17. We will learn from our mistakes and move on.”

West improved to 8-0 overall and 3-0 in the CPC. Davie fell to 4-2, 1-2.

Sophomore pitcher Olivia Boger blanked West in the first, second and third, and leadoff batter Anna Devereaux sparked a third-inning rally with a single. After McKenzie Barneycastle advanced her with a bunt, Devereaux scored on a two-out hit by Makenzie Smith.

“I was pleased with the intensity and fire we came out with,” Lowery said. “We didn’t back down the entire game. Boger was bringing it the first few innings. She struck out some of their best hitters (including one headed to Appalachian State and another bound for Purdue). Obviously, the outcome wasn’t what we wanted, but we had specific things we wanted to improve on and we did.”

The Titans turned their deficit into an insurmountable lead in the fourth with a walk, single, bunt hit, walk and single. After Davie finally got an out, three straight singles were followed by a walk and an error. Yuck.

Meanwhile, West’s Brooke Perry was working on a complete-game four-hitter. After Smith gave Davie the lead, the War Eagles didn’t have another hit until a Devereaux single in the seventh.

Devereaux was 2 for 3 with a hit by pitch. No. 3 batter Jessie Beck was 1 for 3 with two steals, and cleanup girl Smith was 1 for 4 as West outhit Davie 12-4. Davie also committed three errors to West’s one. Lowery employed three pitchers, and West knocked around each one.

The War Eagles, at this point at least, are not quite good enough to get over the hump in the CPC. They finish third regularly, and they’re sitting in third. The first loss was 10-0 to North Davidson. Then came the fourth straight loss  – and the eighth in nine meetings – to West.

“West is a great team,” Lowery said. “They have some very talented players and are very well-coached. We will get there. We are putting the time in. We are working hard. At one point, I had one senior on the mound (Sarah Myers) and the rest were three freshmen (Katelyn Webb, Devereaux and Sierra Ferguson) and five sophomores (Barneycastle, Beck, K’lea Parks, Smith and Kelsey Brown). I think that says a lot. It will come.”

Indeed, Lowery found reasons to believe in her War Eagles.

“We had another double play (with Parks, Smith and Ferguson turning a 6-4-3) that ended an inning,” she said. “That pumped us all up, coaches included. It’s very impressive  that they can turn these plays against these strong teams.

“We were much more aggressive at the plate. Smith came up big with a hit up the middle that scored Devereaux from second. That gave us a little spark.

“Even after their big inning, we didn’t quit. Beck stole two bases back to back (against catcher Anna Epling, who has verbally committed to Maryland). Beck is one of the smartest base runners we have.”

With first place on the line, West followed up with a historic 4-1 win at North Davidson, which is ranked 12th in the nation and is coached by a man (Mike Lambros) with a state-record 806 career wins. It ended two glorious streaks for the Black Knights, who had a 53-game winning streak in the regular season and had not lost at home since March 12, 2012.

Beck and Kasey Potts had two hits each in a 16-0 home demolition of last-place Parkland.

The game only lasted two and a half innings as Davie scored nine runs in the first and seven in the second. Myers gave up one hit and struck out five in three innings.

Davie has outscored the Mustangs 49-0 over three meetings.

That Davie defeated visiting Mt. Tabor was no surprise. The surprise was that it was only 4-1.

The War Eagles (6-2, 3-2) had 10-run ruled Tabor 18 consecutive times, and this was the closest margin since a 2-0 decision at Tabor in 2008.

Parks (2-3, double) and Webb (2-3, two RBIs, two doubles) had four of Davie’s seven hits. Barneycastle, Beck (double) and Lindsey Custer all went 1 for 3.

Julie Gough went the distance in the circle, allowing three hits, walking none and striking out eight. She retired the first seven Spartans. After they got their first hit, Gough sat down eight in a row.

But the Spartans were not easily disposed in their 25th straight loss to Davie.

Myers scored on a passed ball to open the scoring in the second. In the third, Custer singled, Barneycastle reached on a bunt hit and Beck delivered a run-scoring double. In the sixth, Davie pushed its lead from 2-1 to 4-1 as Parks and Webb laced doubles.