Queen hits grand slam; Bostic fans 13

Published 9:48 am Thursday, March 14, 2019

What a crazy, improbable, wild first week of the Davie varsity softball season. It ended with Davie’s record at 2-1. Davie could be 3-0, but it could also be 1-2.

The War Eagles opened with an 11-6, eight-inning win at North Iredell on March 4. The biggest stars were Karley Queen (grand slam) and pitcher Rachel Bostic (13 strikeouts).

But long before Bostic finished off her complete-game four-hitter, she was victimized by bad luck in the second, when a 1-1 tie was turned into a 5-1 deficit with one swing. Davie committed two errors but almost got out of the inning unscathed. Bostic coaxed a swing and a miss for what would have been the third out. But the pitch sailed over the catcher’s head, the batter/runner reached safely and the inning stayed alive with the bases full. The cleanup batter was next in Macie York, and she sent the first pitch over the fence for a grand slam.

“Had that not happened, we would have been out of that inning (with the score 1-1),” coach Dawn Lowery said.

The War Eagles staged a dramatic rally in the top of the seventh. With Davie trailing 5-3, Emma Patterson singled with one out. Queen followed with a single. An error allowed Patterson to score and Queen wound up at third. Desiree Lewis put down a bunt, and a wild throw home allowed Queen to score the tying run. With two outs, Shea Woody delivered a go-ahead double.

“I knew they have improved over the last few years,” Lowery said. “It was not their first game. We had to fight through it.”

The Raiders did not fold, scoring one in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings. But Davie put North away in the top of the eighth. After Caitlyn Sechrist singled, Aisulu Ball and Patterson reached on bunts to load the bases.

Queen cleared the bases with one mighty swing, her grand slam giving Davie a 10-6 lead and shortly later a hard-fought win. Queen is a sophomore who had one varsity at-bat in 2018. From the second spot in the order, she went 2 for 4 and scored two runs. Talk about a varsity starting debut.

“She works really hard,” Lowery said. “She has improved a lot since last season. She goes to a lot of camps and things like that, so she really puts the time in to get better. It was her first ever home run and it was at the perfect time. I was really, really happy for her because she’s a great kid who works hard and never gives you any problems. She’s just out there to do what’s best for the team.”

The leadoff batter, Patterson, was the other War Eagle with multiple hits, going 2 for 3 with three runs. Davie doubled North in hits (8-4) and played better defense (three errors to North’s seven).

What about Bostic. She threw 86 of her 124 pitches for strikes, gave up two earned runs and offset five walks with the most strikeouts in 36 games. (Olivia Boger K’d 15 in a 1-0 win over Central Davidson on April 13, 2017.) Bostic went the distance just like North’s Zoe Dalton, who struck out nine War Eagles, after managing just one complete game in 15 starts as a junior. Before this, Bostic’s high in Ks was six in last year’s 5-3 win over West Forsyth.

“She pitched better in the latter part of the game,” Lowery said. “To have that stamina in the first game, that’s doing her job. We haven’t had that many strikeouts in a long time against a team that can actually hit.”

The defensive play of the game belonged to right fielder Ball, who ran down a deep drive to right-center.

“Aisulu got a good jump on it and made a great play,” Lowery said. “They had runners on. If she didn’t make that play, they would have scored multiple runs on that. That was a big momentum-shifter.”

This was the first Davie-N. Iredell meeting since 2016, when Davie rolled 15-5.

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In the home opener on March 5, South Iredell put up little resistance. Sydney Smith cruised in the circle and Davie parlayed six hits, six walks and four hit batters into an 11-1, five-inning win.

Queen (1-3, double), Sydney Wyatt (1-1, two runs, HBP, walk), London Dirks (two HBPs), Sechrist (1-2, two RBIs), McKenzie Myrick (1-2, double, two RBIs) and Ball (1-2) led the offense as Davie scored six runs in the first, one in the second and four in the fourth.

Smith played a big role with a two-hitter, no earned runs and nine strikeouts. She pitched half as many innings in this game (five) as she did all of her junior year, when she made one start and five relief appearances.

“She’s a lot different than our other two pitchers,” Lowery said. “She’s quiet. She’s going to do her job the best she can, and we love having her on our team. We had dropped third strikes and a couple errors that put her in a bind, but she didn’t waver. She kept doing her thing.”

The 2-0 start was much better than the beginning of 2018, when Davie lost 10-9 to Forbush, 7-6 in nine innings to West Wilkes, 18-11 to South Iredell and suffered the worst start (0-4) in its 22-year fastpitch history.

•••

The game at Carson on March 8 was similar to the N. Iredell opener in regard to counterpunches. But Davie lost 6-5 because it fell apart defensively (eight errors). Both teams left the field at 2-1.

Ball had Davie’s first hit of the game in the third, and the sixth ended with Davie only having four hits. Meanwhile, Carson scored three first-inning runs with just one hit.

But in the top of the seventh, Davie turned a 4-2 deficit into a 5-4 lead. Ball bunted for a hit, advanced on a Patterson bunt and scored on a Queen single. The Carson pitcher hit Wyatt with an 0-2 pitch, Abbey Custer came off the bench to produce a sac bunt, and a two-out error tied the score at 5. On a fullcount pitch to Dirks, the freshman came through with a single that scored Wyatt and provided the lead.

In the bottom of the seventh, though, Carson’s Kary Hales spoiled the Ball/Queen/Dirks heroics. With one on and one out, Hales jumped on a 1-0 pitch and clubbed a two-run, walk-off home run. Hales was 0 for 3 before the powerful game-winner.

Dirks (2-3, walk), Sechrist (2-4, two RBIs, double) and Ball (2-3) flourished in the bottom half of the order to put Davie in position for victory. It was hard to blame Bostic, who pitched a five-hitter with one earned run and zero walks. She threw 73 strikes in 98 pitches and lowered her ERA to 1.46.

Davie outhit Carson 7-5, but overcoming eight errors – to Carson’s two – was asking too much. In the first two games, Davie won despite three and two errors.

“We shouldn’t have been in that game,” Lowery said. “No team should ever win a game with eight errors. I was proud of our fight. It’s good news because we can pinpoint our problem and that’s defense. Even in our two wins, our defense wasn’t great. Our pitchers are doing all they can, and we’re simply not backing them up.”

This was the first Davie-Carson matchup in six years. In 2013, Carson punished Davie 15-3.