Softball on best run in years

Published 10:10 am Thursday, May 7, 2015

Davie’s varsity softball team had made a habit of finishing third in the Central Piedmont Conference behind North Davidson and West Forsyth. Davie tried something different in 2015.

The end of the three-horse race for first place in the regular season couldn’t have been more dramatic. West Forsyth hosted North Davidson. West (20-1, 11-1 CPC) rallied for a 4-3 win over the Black Knights (16-4, 8-3), who led 3-1 after five and a half innings. If North would have won, there would have been a three-way tie for first between West, North and Davie. The way it turned out, West took first, Davie (16-6, 10-2) second and North third. That’s how close Davie was to its first league title since 2001.

But make no mistake, it’s a happy season for the War Eagles. This is their best regular-season finish since running the CPC tables in 2001. In 2007, 2010 and 2012, they tied West for second. They’ve also won nine straight games, the longest streak in 14 years (they won 14 in a row in 2001).

“The North Davidson-West Forsyth rematch was a really exciting game,” Davie coach Dawn Lowery said. “We went to the game as a team after our Mt. Tabor game and watched West celebrate in the bottom of the seventh. We quickly loaded the bus and went back to Davie County. We didn’t put a huge emphasis on the result of that game; we still had Reagan to beat the next day or none of it would have mattered anyway.

“The girls took it in stride and realized (claiming second) was in our hands now. We finished second and we improved. One of our goals at the beginning of the season was to stop finishing third. We accomplished that and are now looking forward to the conference tournament and state playoffs. It is in our hands to go into the conference tournament with more confidence and determination than ever before.”

• McKenzie Barneycastle (2 for 2, four runs, triple), Sarah Myers (2-4, three RBIs, double) and Kasey Potts (2-2, double) rapped two hits each and Olivia Boger struck out 10 in a complete-game three-hitter as Davie battered host Mt. Tabor 15-0 in six innings.

In a 4-1 decision in the first meeting, it was Davie’s closest margin of victory in the series in seven years. But this one was lopsided, with Davie beating Tabor (6-10, 4-7) by 10-plus runs for the 19th time in 20 games.

Bridgett Tierney (1-4), Makenzie Smith (1-5, two RBIs), Jessie Beck (1-3, double, two steals) and Katelyn Webb (1-4, three RBIs, double) helped Davie outhit Tabor 10-3. Tabor hurt itself with seven errors.

The War Eagles have never lost to Reagan, but their 10-5 road win was far from perfect.

They played poorly in the field (seven errors). They atoned for it by pounding out 14 hits, including two or more from K’lea Parks (3-4, double), Barneycastle (2-3, three runs), Tierney (2-5), Smith (2-2), Myers (2-5) and Webb (2-4, home run, three RBIs). Davie also got a triple from Beck (1-4).

Davie unleashed six hits in a six-run second.

“The Reagan game was pretty sloppy defensively,” Lowery said after Davie dropped Reagan to 8-8, 5-6. “The good news is we came to hit. We had some serious hits. If we don’t hit in that game, we lose because our defense was not where it needs to be. You can get by Reagan with seven errors, but not against the top dogs. They laugh at seven errors. Some of those top teams don’t have seven errors all year.”

Julie Gough – who is 7-2, including 4-0 in the CPC – added to her team-high win total by allowing one earned run, no walks and striking out six in a complete game.

Smith, Parks, Webb and Barneycastle drew praise for their recent production.

Webb has taken over at catcher, and she turned heads with a two-run home run to left in the fifth. That’s pretty good pop from a No. 7 batter – and not to mention a freshman. It was the second big fly of the year for Webb, who homered in a jayvee game against West Rowan.

“She is quite possibly the most tenacious player on the team,” Lowery said. “If I told her to run through a brick wall, she would do it – no questions or excuses. I love having that on the team. She will do whatever I ask of her. She has risen to the occasion and is producing big time. It’s nice having her in the bottom third (of the order) to provide a spark when needed.”

Lowery lavished praise on Barneycastle, a sophomore who has been batting in the leadoff spot.

“She is a tough out for every opponent right now,” she said. “She has the speed to bunt or slap and the power to hit it over their head if they in. She has improved tremendously over the last year. I can tell a huge difference in her when she plays with more confidence. It’s like she’s saying, ‘I dare you to get me out.’ She’s also very smart on the bases. She can read things without me having to tell her. At this level, that’s what she’s supposed to do. If I have to tell the girls, it’s probably too late. She can see it before I can sometimes. She has a very bright future.”

Smith, a sophomore, has been reliable in the three hole.

“She is a huge offensive weapon,” Lowery said. “She has really become very consistent the last few weeks. Going 3 for 3 against North Davidson should build anyone’s confidence. She is disciplined at the plate and is doing a great job moving runners when we need her to.”

Parks, another sophomore, is like a ticking time bomb. She could explode at any moment.

“She is on the verge of breaking through,” Lowery said. “She is knocking the leather off the ball right now. Even though she went 0 for 5 against Tabor, she deserves praise. She was robbed three times. She hit one to right field that I wasn’t sure was going to bounce off the fence and hit the right fielder in the back. She stuck her glove out there and snow-coned it. When she gets hold of the ball, it’s going somewhere. I am proud of her fight this year. She is working hard and the balls are starting to find the holes.”

Note: A story on the Davie junior varsity’s season-ending wins over Reagan and Forbush will appear in next week’s paper.