Fergusson: 2 HRs, 7 RBIs

Published 10:36 am Thursday, April 28, 2016

Sierra Ferguson of Davie’s varsity softball team couldn’t have dreamed of a game like this. What she did to carry Davie to an eye-catching 8-7 victory at Alexander Central was shocking, amazing and unbelievable.

The sophomore went 3 for 4 with a double, two home runs and seven RBIs from the cleanup spot. She may have set two single-game records with two long balls and the RBIs as Davie beat AC for the first time ever.

“I think so,” coach Dawn Lowery said. “It’s got to be close. The funny thing is, she knocked in seven runs and scored the eighth one. So she had a part in all eight of our runs.”

The War Eagles lost 8-4 at home to North Davidson on April 19, but they made frontrunner North (17-2, 8-0 Central Piedmont Conference) work for it.

Davie erased a 2-0 deficit and tied the game at 2. After falling behind 6-2, they rallied within 6-4. In the second inning, when Davie caught up at 2-2, Ferguson and Katelyn Webb had singles and both scored on an error. Ferguson (2-3, double) and Webb (2-4) had four of Davie’s seven hits. More positives: Julie Gough and Olivia Boger combined for 68 strikes out of 96 pitches. By contrast, North’s complete-game pitcher, Carson Pace, was forced to throw 146 pitches.

This was the second straight loss following a respectable 5-3 setback to West Forsyth. Davie did close to nothing the first time around against North and West, getting outscored 20-2. In the rematches, the War Eagles showed considerable improvement, getting outscored 13-7.

Ferguson Goes Off

In the nonconference game at Alexander Central on April 23, the War Eagles faced an old juggernaut that is ranked No. 4 in 4-A by maxpreps.com. The Cougars have walked off with the state-championship trophy nine times through the years.

Ferguson wasn’t fazed. In her first at-bat in the top of the first, she roped a double the opposite way to left-center to score Bridgett Tierney. Ferguson would score on a wild pitch to give Davie a 2-0 lead.

“We jumped on them,” Lowery said. “I think they underestimated us.”

AC answered with two runs in the bottom half. Ferguson, though, was just warming up. In the third, she cranked a three-run homer that scored Tierney and Anna Devereaux, pulling it down the right-field line and staking Davie to a 5-2 lead.

“They have a row of pine trees behind their fence, and it was 25 or 30 feet over those,” Lowery said. “I mean it was one of the hardest and farthest home runs I’ve ever watched in person. There is a road that goes behind the trees. I think her dad found it on the other side of the road.”

Wait, there’s more from Ferguson. In the fourth, she slammed a three-run homer to left-center to score McKenzie Barneycastle and Tierney. That one pushed Davie’s lead to 8-3.

“I heard their coach saying: ‘Don’t give her anything she can hit,’” Lowery said. “She’s very good at hitting opposite field. They pitched her outside and she went to left-center on a rope. It wasn’t quite as high and powerful as the first one, but it was smoked. It was pretty exciting to watch that happen.”

The Cougars, who are 17-4 overall and 9-2 in the North Piedmont 3A/4A Conference, don’t lose often and never go quietly. They closed within 8-6 in the fifth. In the sixth, everyone learned that Ferguson was human as she grounded out to second. In the AC sixth, the cleanup girl homered to cut Davie’s lead to 8-7. Davie wasn’t out of the woods by a long stretch. Two errors stirred a rally for the enemy. Hannah Woody caught a liner for the first out, but the next batter reached on a third strike in the dirt. Now the bases were loaded with only one out. The War Eagles were beginning to have that “here we go again” feeling.

But Davie escaped with the slim lead intact. K’lea Parks squeezed a line drive before a grounder to Woody ended the inning.

“It was exciting to watch,” Lowery said. “A team like AC has fight in them. That’s why they’re nine-time state champions. They know how to come back and win big games. To see our girls come out on top was pretty special.”

Davie still had to get three more outs. In the seventh, the No. 2 batter singled up the middle. With the tying run aboard, Parks got a force out at second. The Cougar who homered in her previous at-bat flew out deep to Devereaux in left. Parks fielded a grounder to close the book on the biggest win of the season.

Tierney, Devereaux and Makenzie Smith had two hits each. Ferguson’s staggering performance included three of the game’s six extra-base hits. She came in with one homer, a shot on March 29 against South Columbus. Her second and third ones came seven games later against a team that broke Dawn Singleton Lowery’s and the War Eagles’ hearts in the state quarterfinals in 2000 and 2001. In 2000, Davie lost 3-2 in 10 innings. In 2001, when Lowery was a junior for the War Eagles, Davie lost 1-0. The last meeting was a 12-1 loss in 2013. The only other teams to beat AC this year are West Iredell, Ledford and Mooresville.

“Although it’s nonconference, AC is always a powerhouse,” Lowery said. “To beat a team like that is always a big deal for your team. It is special. We were just trying to have a good time, play together and build off what we had done (in 5-3 and 8-4 losses to West and North). It was one of those no-pressure games where we were trying to play our game.”

Maybe this is the springboard to a strong finish for the War Eagles.

“We have the ability to play that kind of ball every game,” she said. “Sometimes it’s all in their head. They have a mental block against some of these teams that we play on a regular basis. If we can get past that, we have a chance. We have the talent. It’s there. We practice it every day.”

It’s hard to overstate what Ferguson accomplished. She batted in the bottom half of the order the first 17 games. Her first game in the cleanup spot was April 12 in a 3-2 win over Reagan. In four games at cleanup, she is 7 for 13.