Varsity softball wins conference tourney

Published 10:06 am Thursday, May 11, 2017

Davie’s varsity softball team, at long last, solved the North Davidson riddle – by a resounding 8-0, no less.

The top-seeded Black Knights arrived at Rich Park for the Central Piedmont Conference Tournament final with six straight wins over Davie. That changed when Olivia Boger hurled Davie’s first shutout win over North in 17 years (Davie won 1-0 in 2000).

North arrived with a 40-1 record against Davie between 2002-17. That changed McKenzie Barneycastle, Makenzie Smith, K’lea Parks and the rest of the War Eagles tripled N. Davidson in hits (9-3) and delivered the largest win over North in 19 years (Davie won 12-0 in 1998).

In the regular season, the War Eagles lost 14-5 and 9-4 to North. In some ways, they tripped over themselves, committing three errors to allow six unearned runs in the first meeting and committing five errors to allow seven unearned runs in the second meeting. They coughed up two-run leads in both. All that changed when the Davie offense knocked North around like a beach ball in the fifth and seventh innings to end a 15-year title drought.

The common denominator in Davie’s last two titles is Dawn Lowery, who was a junior player on the 2001 team and is a third-year coach for the 2017 tournament champion.

“I said: ‘I want y’all to experience that feeling,’” Lowery said. “And I’m so happy they did. This night was special. It doesn’t change the seedings, but from a mentality standpoint, I’m just so happy for them.”

Finally, Davie got over a hump that felt like a mountain.

“We learn from every mistake and every loss,” Boger said. “I prayed before the game. I prayed that He would let us play to the best of our ability, and that’s exactly what happened. So there’s power in prayer.”

“I’m glad it happened in my senior year because it makes it much better to go out with a bang,” Barneycastle said. “We all played together and we all played selfless.”

“I can’t really describe the feeling right now,” Parks said. “We were so hyped. We played our very best and the outcome was great. It’s amazing.”


In the first round against visiting Reynolds on May 2, second-seeded Davie thrashed the No. 5 Demons 13-0 in four and a half innings.

The War Eagles outscored Reynolds (7-15) 31-2 in the regular season, and this was more of the same as Davie got multiple hits from Barneycastle (3-4), Emilee Dishman (2-2), Sierra Ferguson (2-3), Jessie Beck (2-3) and Desiree Lewis (2-3). Lewis swatted her sixth homer, three behind Ferguson’s team-high total.

River Simpson dominated in the circle, throwing a five-inning one-hitter. Her bid for a perfect game was erased with a two-out single in the fifth.


In the semifinals on May 3, Davie clobbered No. 3 Reagan 18-0 in four and a half innings. The spread was barely a surprise after Davie outscored the Raiders 24-2 in the regular season.

Parks (4-4), Smith (3-3), Ferguson (2-4), Beck (2-2) and Sydney Hendren (2-3) led the 16-hit attack. Smith cracked her fourth homer to rank third on the team. It extended Davie’s record for homers in a season to 25. The previous mark was 17 in 2009, when Morgan Wyatt hit nine and Lindsey Bailey, Tisha Funderburk and Jordan Schultz hit two each.

Boger (three innings) and Simpson (two innings) combined on a two-hitter as Reagan fell to 10-13.


When the Davie-North Davidson championship game on May 5 at Rich Park was 0-0 through four innings, some fans couldn’t help but wonder what would do in Davie this time? The War Eagles had to feel a little snakebit when they failed to score in the third after having Beck and Dishman at second and third with one out. Barneycastle was called out on a bang-bang play for the third out. In the fourth, Smith’s leadoff single didn’t materialize into anything.

Instead of the same ol’ song, this happened: The War Eagles hounded both North pitchers – Regan Spencer and Katie McNeill – with four-run outbursts in the fifth and seventh as they turned the clock back to 2001.

“Hits are contagious, that’s a fact of the game,” Lowery said. “When we pushed runs across, it put pressure on them. You could see them tighten up a little bit and we capitalized.”

The Davie offense stirred in the fifth when Beck reached on a hit by pitch and Hendren pushed her to second with a sacrifice bunt. Then Lewis lit a fire, connecting on the first pitch for a RBI single over first base.

“Desiree is a great athlete,” Parks said. “That was the point when I said we’ve got it. It clicked right there. Desiree gave us motivation.”

“I know (Lowery) has confidence in me,” Lewis said. “I can see it on her face. I went up there excited, I knew it was coming, and I knew my team was about to bring it. I’m typically a pull hitter, but I focussed on oppo.”

“That sparked our inning, but even bigger than that was Jessie getting on base and Hendren getting the bunt down perfectly. Hendren is a great hitter but I asked her to bunt and she’s the reason Jessie scored (on Lewis’ hit).”

After Bridgett Tierney walked, Barneycastle pulled an RBI single between first and second. Then North coach Mike Lambros switched pitchers, taking out Spencer and bringing in McNeill. The change did not slow the War Eagles, with Tierney scoring on a wild pitch and Ferguson getting an RBI single for a 4-0 bulge.

“That helped my team realize that, yeah, we can do this,” Barneycastle said.

“We blinked in the fifth, and you can’t blink,” Lambros told The-Dispatch. “They hiccuped against us (twice in the regular season). Tonight we hiccupped. That’s all they needed to unlock the box.”

Davie whacked the North pitchers around for four more runs in the seventh.

Tierney opened it with a single. On the first pitch to Barneycastle, she dropped a bunt down the first-base line, and North didn’t have a chance.

“It was an inside pitch and I placed it perfectly on the first-base line,” Barneycastle said. “I don’t know how I didn’t trip over it. I had to run over it.”

“She’s really good at drag bunting,” Lowery said. “That put two of our fastest players on the bases with two of my hottest hitters coming up.”

Smith smoked a single up the middle. McNeill hit Ferguson with a pitch to load the bases. After Spencer returned to the circle, Anna Devereaux knocked in a run with a ground out. With the noose around the Black Knights’ neck, Parks kicked the chair from under their feet with a two-run single to left-center. Now it was 8-0.

“I was happy not for me but for our team,” Parks said. “I didn’t let them down. At the end of the day, I just want to make them as happy as they can be and I wanted to help them get the championship. It wasn’t just me. There were people on base to help us get those runs.”

How about Boger? The senior lefty absolutely handcuffed a 21-5 opponent that was riding a seven-game winning streak, pitching a three-hitter with no walks and seven strikeouts.

“I can’t be more proud of what Olivia did,” Lowery said. “She commanded that game. She led her team to the championship. It was one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen her pitch. Batter after batter, she didn’t blink one time. Coach Mo (Morgan Wyatt) called an excellent game and Sydney (Hendren) did a great job behind the plate. We had had trouble finishing against them, but Olivia didn’t let that stick in the back of her mind. She did her job again.”

Boger fired 85 pitches, including 61 for strikes. At one point she retired 15 in a row, with North failing to get the ball out of the infield during that dazzling stretch.

“It felt so good to finally beat them this year,” Boger said. “It was definitely a screwball, rise-ball, drop-ball night. They always expect my curveball because I’m a curveball pitcher. I did throw some curveballs tonight, but my screwball and rise ball were my strikeout pitches tonight, and my drop ball helped. In between that, I threw some really good changeups that I got some ground balls out of. So I mixed it up to keep them on their heels.”

Boger recorded her 12th complete game, fifth shutout, lowered her ERA to 1.75 and upped her record to 15-4, tying the season record for wins (Shannon Handy went 15-1 in 2001).

“She pitched very, very, very well,” Lambros told The-Dispatch. “Davie’s had that ability all year long.”

“She did amazing,” Parks said. “I am beyond proud of her. She is a great pitcher and I’m so glad she was able to get us this win, this championship.”

In a Hollywood ending to CPC play, Davie beat North for the first time since 7-5 in 2015 in Lowery’s first year as coach, and it won a CPC title for the first time since a 3-2 win over West Forsyth in the tournament final in 2001. When it was over, with teammates going absolutely bananas, Smith bent over, stared at the ground and cried..

“It was our time,” Lowery said. “It was the seniors’ time. Our players wanted it and they deserved to win. We showed we are just as good as they are. That’s the biggest monkey we’ve had on our back for however many years.”

Notes: North was allowing 2.3 runs per game before Davie exploded behind two-hit efforts from Barneycastle (2-4), Smith (2-4) and Parks (2-4). Beck was 0 for 1 but reached twice. … Davie will be at home for at least the first round of this week’s 4-A playoffs. “To have that monkey off our back now, knowing (N. Davidson) is one of the best teams in the state, we can beat any team in the state and I hope they believe it now.” … In machine-like fashion, Davie is hitting .403 and averaging 10.4 runs per game. Ferguson is hitting .581 with an astounding 32-game hitting streak. Barneycastle (.482), Tierney (.480), Smith (.426) and Parks (.409) are 2-5 in average.  … Oh, and one last thing on Ferguson. Her fifth-inning hit was her 43rd, setting a single-season record. Tierney had 42 in 2016. … Davie (20-4) tied the record for wins in its 21-year fastpitch history. The 2001 team went 20-2. … The Davie slowpitch/fastpitch record for wins dating to 1975 came in 1984, when Aileen Steelman’s team went 21-2. … This is the last dance for seniors Barneycastle, Smith, Parks, Beck and Boger.