Softball run ends in quarterfinals

Published 9:00 am Thursday, May 26, 2016

WELCOME – All good things – and Davie’s softball team winning seven straight, including three in the 4-A playoffs, was a very good thing – must come to an end, and the War Eagles’ season ended in a 3-2 loss at North Davidson in the quarterfinals on May 19.

After knocking out the 13, four and five seeds, 20th-seeded Davie learned so painfully that sometimes giving everything you’ve got still won’t be enough. It was Davie’s first loss since North won at Rich Park on April 19. The top-seeded Black Knights improved to 26-2, while Davie finished 18-10.

But Davie was feisty, clawing out of a 3-0 hole and putting the tying and go-ahead runners on in the seventh inning.

“I was really proud of the way the girls showed up in this game,” coach Dawn Lowery said. “I mean they wanted it. With the exception of a few plays here and there, we were in it the whole time. It was an exciting ride.”

“It feels like we play Davie five times a year,” North pitcher Carson Pace told The Dispatch. “They’re a great team and they really brought their A game. We had to step it up in the last couple of innings.”

Davie hung with North in hits (7-6 in favor of the Knights), but five errors (compared to two for North) left the War Eagles thinking about what might have been. Three of the miscues came in the first two innings, when North grabbed the 3-0 lead.

“I’ve said it since I started coaching: You have to play almost a perfect game to come out on top against North Davidson, and we weren’t perfect tonight,” Lowery said. “We got ourselves in good situations, but we just couldn’t execute when we needed to.”

If Davie doesn’t fall short, catcher Katelyn Webb would have been the game’s MVP. The catcher went 2 for 3 with a home run. She also picked off two runners. McKenzie Barneycastle (2-4) had two hits as well. Sierra Ferguson and Makenzie Smith were both 1 for 3.

“That’s one of the best games I’ve ever seen Katelyn play,” Lowery said. “The first time we played them at home, Katelyn was out with a broke thumb. So I knew they were going to test her a little bit, and she didn’t hesitate behind the plate. The pickoffs were very timely, and the home run was awesome.”

North parlayed a walk, sac bunt and single into a 1-0 lead in the first. In the North second, two doubles, a single and an error enabled the Knights to push the lead to 3-0. Webb picked off a runner at third with a throw to Desiree Lewis or North gets more.

Webb did it with her bat while leading off the third. She homered over the 210-foot fence in left-center to put Davie on the board. That put her in a tie with Ferguson for the second-most homers (four) in Davie’s 20-year fastpitch history.

“I’m very proud of her for what she did,” Lowery said. “(A home run) doesn’t happen a lot vs. Carson. It made us feel like: ‘Hey, we’re still in this. We can score some runs.’”

Later in the third, K’lea Parks was hit by a pitch, Barneycastle bunted for a hit and Bridgett Tierney walked to load the bases. But Pace escaped the jam with back-to-back swinging strikeouts.

The North senior finished with one walk and 12 Ks, lifting her record to 23-2. “Carson, again, was a rock,” North coach Mike Lambros told The Dispatch.

“We have pitched against them so many times this year, so we know each batter’s weaknesses and we try to work to that,” Pace said.

In the North third, second baseman Makenzie Smith caught a liner and turned a double play with a toss to Ferguson at first. With one on and one out in the North fourth, Webb threw to Ferguson to pick off her second runner. In the fifth, Olivia Boger stranded a runner at second with a strikeout.

Davie inched back to 3-2 in the sixth. With two outs, Ferguson dumped an opposite-field single down the left-field line. The ball spun past the fielder and allowed Ferguson to reach second. Smith followed with an infield hit to short. The shortstop threw low to first and Ferguson scored. With the tying run at second, Pace induced a ground out.

“We didn’t get to play the conference tournament (due to rain) and it’s turned into that (in the playoffs),” Lambros said. “That’s a tribute to them. That’s why they’re in the fourth round. That’s how we play in the (Central Piedmont Conference). You see how strong it is.”

Davie committed two errors in the sixth, but they didn’t hurt because Ferguson, Smith and Parks turned a 3-4-6 double play on a bunt.

Davie showed fight in the seventh. Webb started with the single to left. Alexis Peterson laid out and had the ball for a moment, but it popped out when she hit the ground. The next batter, Parks, who was 3 for 5 against Pace in two regular-season meetings, flew out to center.

“Parks has been seeing the ball really well this postseason,” Lowery said. “And she looked confident. That deep fly ball was just right at her. I never doubt K’lea when she steps in the box.”

Pace struck out the next batter, but Barneycastle kept Davie alive with a liner off the outstretched glove of shortstop Haley Cole. With courtesy-runner Sydney Wyatt at second and Barneycastle at first, Tierney stepped in the box. She tried a soft slap, the ball trickled foul and the ump ruled out her, calling it a bunt attempt with two strikes. It was a controversial ending.

“I hate the way it ended,” Lowery said. “(The plate umpire) said she did not swing through it and that she just stuck the bat out there. On a soft slap, the bat has to come through the zone. North, West (Forsyth) and Reagan have been on us all year trying to get that call. It’s very close and Bridgett knows that. We mentioned to her before the game that they were going to be looking for it. I knew it was probably going to happen at some point. I just hate it was the very last play of the game. As unfortunate as that call was, that wasn’t what cost us the game. We had 12 strikeouts. We had us down for nine errors and only six hits. That’s what cost us the game.”

The Black Knights advanced to the Western Regional championship series against West Forsyth, reaching the semifinals for the third straight year. This was their 10th straight win.

“They’re a veteran team,” Lowery said. “They’re good in these situations. They thrive in the playoffs. They’ve been there and done it. We did put some pressure on them. I saw them shakier than probably I’ve ever seen them before, but Carson kind of shut us down.”

After getting chased early against A.L. Brown, Boger responded with a respectable outing. It was her eighth complete game.

“She had a little bit of a shaky start, but she didn’t falter,” Lowery said. “She came back and pitched really well. The defensive errors did not help her. She was doing her job. She gave up a few hits, but nothing that was typical of North Davidson. I’m very proud of her. She wanted it. She was in the zone. A.L. Brown got to her a little bit, but she bounced back at the right time against North.

“I hate it ended the way it did, but we have a lot to be proud of.”

Brace yourself for 2017. Everyone who was on the field at North will be back next year. There will be 11 returners in all.

“We’re losing Julie Gough, Lindsey Custer and Kasey Potts,” Lowery said. “The three seniors didn’t play (vs. ND), but they’ve made a huge impact on our team and we’ll miss them tremendously from all aspects of the game – leadership, focus in practice and things like that. We’re definitely going to miss them, but we’re excited that we do have an entire starting lineup back. The bar has been set. Would we have liked to have won some of those big (regulars-season) games this year? Yeah. But our playoff run was more important and more impressive. Next year the majority of the team is going to be juniors and seniors.”


• North’s only two losses were 2-1 scores against Forbush and Enka.

• The Black Knights are Davie’s nemesis, but then again, they’re a nemesis to most everyone. They beat Davie 9-2 and 8-4 in the regular season, and they’ve won 38 of 39 meetings.

• Tierney, Anna Devereaux, Barneycastle, Smith, Parks, Ferguson, Webb and Boger cracked the top five in different single-season categories.

Tierney (92) and Devereaux (91) are 1-2 in at-bats. Morgan Hendrix held the record with 87 in 2014. … Tierney is second in runs with 32. Hendrix had 44 in 2014. … Tierney is first in hits with 42. Hendrix had 41 in 2014. Hendrix had 39 in 2013. Barneycastle is tied for third with 39. … Smith is fifth in RBIs with 26. Caroline Miller (34 in 2013), Morgan Wyatt (29 in 2009), Abby Daniels (28 in 2014) and Sarah Myers (28 in 2014) comprise the top four. … Parks tied for fifth with eight doubles. Jordan Schultz (12 in 2007), Wyatt (10 in 2007), Ashlie Sanders (nine in 1998) and Sadie Lagle (nine in 2011) represent the top four. … Wyatt hit a record nine home runs in 2009. Ferguson and Webb are tied for second with four. Smith is tied for fourth with three. Amber Hamm hit three in 1999. … Shannon Handy has the record for wins, going 15-1 in 2001. Handy went 12-4 in 2000. Boger (12-5) is tied for second.