Softball win streak at 7

Published 11:43 am Thursday, April 30, 2015

A blowout win over a 7-10 North Iredell team would have been sexy, but a team bidding for a share of the Central Piedmont Conference championship is measured best when it faces adverse conditions. At different points in the season, you must overcome circumstances that would otherwise sink you.

In some ways, North was facing Davie at a good time. The War Eagles were coming off a program-validating week in which they stunned West Forsyth and North Davidson on back-to-back nights. The wins over a pair of state-ranked powers gave them a jolt they have long craved.

But it also set them up for an emotional letdown. The 3-A Raiders led 2-0 and 3-2 before Davie gritted out a 4-3 home victory.

“As a coaching staff, we have to keep reminding ourselves of how young we are,” coach Dawn Lowery said. “Sarah Myers is our only senior. As great of a leader as she is, we still don’t have a group of seniors that have been through the fire and know how to respond in tough situations. We are relying a lot on sophomores and freshmen to do the job that most teams have seniors taking the lead on. Don’t get me wrong – Sarah’s doing her job. She’s leading the team. But there is a huge difference between one senior and five seniors. The ability for us to have the same level of intensity and focus for every opponent will come with age.

“But we can’t use our youth as an excuse. Playing consistent is definitely an area we need to improve on. These young players are growing up right in front of us. Last week really made them mature, but the upcoming weeks will really test them and force them to mature even more.”

Bridgett Tierney is an astonishing freshman who went 2 for 3 with two runs from the two spot in the order. Jessie Beck (1-3, RBI), K’lea Parks (1-2, double) and Kelsey Brown (1-3, RBI) had the only other hits for Davie. Both teams had five hits.   

“Tierney is a big weapon,” Lowery said. “She is so quick and is getting better at putting the ball wherever she wants. She is capable of reaching on any given ball she puts in play. And the fact she is a freshman makes her that much more valuable. She works really hard in the offseason and plays a lot of ball. If she improves next year as much as she did between the last year, she is going to wreak havoc on a lot of teams in the future.”

After failing to get a hit off starter Olivia Boger in the first two innings, the Raiders jumped to a 2-0 lead in the third. A single and back-to-back doubles put Davie in the hole.

“North was a great team,” Lowery said. “Their record does not do justice for their talent level. They had some solid hitters all the way through the lineup.”

Davie’s offense came out flat, failing to get a hit in the first three innings.

“Their pitcher was very consistent,” Lowery said. “I think she is going to UNC-Wilmington. She had a lot of in-and-out movement, and it took a while for our hitters to get used to it.”

Davie rallied to a tie in the fourth. Tierney led off with a single and Makenzie Smith was hit by a pitch. With runners at second and third and one out, Beck delivered a run-scoring bunt hit.

“She laid down what was supposed to be a sac bunt, but she beat it out,” Lowery said.

After Parks was hit by a pitch, Brown tied it with a hard line drive to left. Beck was thrown out at home on the play, but Davie had new life at 2-2.

“This game would have been the perfect time for us to become complacent and assume that, because we had such a big week previously, we wouldn’t have to work as hard,” Lowery said. “We fought until the end.”

A walk, double and error allowed scrappy North to regain a 3-2 lead in the fifth. But the second Tierney hit and two North errors bailed out the War Eagles in the bottom of the fifth.

Sierra Ferguson reached on an error and McKenzie Barneycastle dropped down a sac bunt. Tierney singled and then stole second. The tying and go-ahead runs scored when North’s shortstop committed a throwing error on Smith’s ball.

“I was proud of our perseverance,” Lowery said. “We haven’t come from behind very often this season. Honestly, I think the girls came out pretty flat and underestimated the talent of North Iredell. When they came out quick on us, I think it caught us offguard and then we had to fight back.”

Julie Gough, who gave up one run in two innings, wound up as the winning pitcher. Myers picked up the save by completely shutting North down in the sixth and seventh. Gough and Myers combined to retire the final eight Raiders.

“Using Myers in relief has worked really well,” Lowery said. “Gough and Boger help set up Myers’ success. If Myers is hitting her spots and the previous pitcher did her job, she becomes an enormous threat. Her offspeed and movement throws quick-hitting teams off. It’s really fun to watch.”

The N. Iredell game was sandwiched between mismatches that were nothing more than glorified practices for the War Eagles, who started last week with a doubleheader sweep at Reynolds.

In game one, Davie breezed 17-0 in three innings, scoring the most runs in 23 games (17-0 over Parkland last year).

Myers (2-3) and Brown (2-3, four RBIs) had four of Davie’s 10 hits. Barneycastle (1-2, two RBIs) had an inside-the-park homer in which she burned the right fielder and turned on the jets.

In game two, Barneycastle (2-3), Myers (2-3, three RBIs), Beck (2-3) and Brown (2-3, two RBIs) powered a 15-0, three-inning romp.

Myers did all the pitching at Reynolds, and she was perfect in both games as Davie extended its series winning streak to 44.

Davie enjoyed batting practice at host Parkland’s expense on Friday, winning 15-0 in three innings.

At 14-6 overall and 8-2 in the Central Piedmont Conference, the War Eagles have their longest winning streak (seven) in five years (they also won seven straight in 2010).

Parks (3-3, two RBIs), Smith (2-3, three RBIs), Lindsey Custer (2-3) and Gough (2-2, three RBIs) paced a 12-hit attack. Gough struck out eight and walked none while allowing two harmless hits.