Simpson, Nuckolls lift softball past Glenn

Published 9:13 am Thursday, April 7, 2022

By Brian Pitts

Davie Enterprise Record

Summer Simpson delivered the biggest offensive performance in four years and pitcher Kaylyn Nuckols outdueled Glenn’s Erika Clinard as Davie’s varsity softball team overcame the absence of two starters and beat the Bobcats 9-5 in Kernersville on March 30.

The War Eagles were without cleanup batter London Dirks (.457, 3 homers, 18 RBIs) and No. 1 pitcher Maddie Hendrix, who had started seven of 10 games and had pitched 42 of 65 innings. L. Dirks was out sick and Hendrix was sidelined with an injury.

It didn’t matter. Davie outhit Glenn 13-6 and never trailed while extending its series winning streak to seven.

Nuckols and Clinard posted zeroes in the first two innings, with Davie leaving the bases loaded in the second. But the top of the third went kaboom. The big inning started innocently, with Simpson’s double getting sandwiched by a pair of outs.  Then came the merry-go-round. McKenzie Mixon walked, Chesney Shook tripled and Leah Grimes singled. Carleigh Croom and Bailey Snow added singles as Davie took a 5-0 lead and never looked back.

What made the win satisfying is Davie knocked around a quality arm. Clinard struck out 11, but she walked five and needed 162 pitches to navigate seven innings.

“She’s legit,” Davie assistant Fred Smith said of Clinard. “She’s had 116 strikeouts and only 16 walks. I told the girls: ‘She’s not going to walk you. You’re going to get something to hit.’ She is what keeps them in the game, and she bats like .500, too.”

Simpson went 4 for 4 with four runs, 2 doubles, 2 steals and a walk. Getting four hits against a weak pitcher is one thing. Doing it against someone like Clinard is quite another. She put up Davie’s first four-hit performance in 78 games, which made her a blistering 19 for 38 on the season.

“Summer is really striking the ball well,” Smith said. “This year she’s dialed (her swing) back a little bit and she’s doing a great job taking what they give her. She’s hitting singles and doubles mixed in with some home runs.”

Snow (3-4, two steals) and Sydney Dirks (2-4, walk) were among the top sticks as Davie produced nine or more runs for the eighth time in 13 games.

Davie got a boost from Nuckols, who went all seven innings and fired 61 of 97 pitches for strikes. Only two of Glenn’s runs were earned as Davie committed four errors (Glenn had 6 miscues).

How about that from a girl who had only pitched 14 innings in 13 games? The senior’s longest outing before this in her three-year varsity career was three innings.

“Kaylyn stepped up,” Smith said. “She did a great job. We changed the defense around a little bit and put a shift on.”

S. Dirks moved from second to third to fill London’s defensive spot. Freshman Raelyn Lankford took S. Dirks’ spot at second.

“Raelyn is solid,” Smith said. “She can play any position. She pitched in middle school, but she hasn’t pitched in two or three years. We’ve been working with her in practice.”

Notes: Glenn fell to 4-7 overall and 3-4 in the Central Piedmont Conference. … Simpson had the first four-hit game since Sierra Ferguson went 4-4 in an 11-5 win at Central Davidson in March of 2018. … Davie has been strengthened by the earlier-than-expected return of Shook, who missed the first 11 games with an injury. Her junior debut came the game before against Montour. She’s got a ton of varsity experience. She was the No. 1 pitcher as a freshman and sophomore. Last season she went 8-1 for a team that finished 10-6, tossing 54.2 innings with a 3.54 ERA. She can’t pitch right now, but she can swing the bat. “She was able to return sooner than anticipated,” coach Debbie Evans said. “She can’t do any throwing yet, just hitting and base running.”

Davie 18, Reynolds 1

The home game against Reynolds on April 1 unfolded just as expected. Davie put the Demons to bed in two and a half innings.

Twelve of Davie’s 16 hits came from Melanie Gobble (2-2), S. Dirks (2-2), L. Dirks (2-3), Audrea Fowler (2-2), Ashley Bledsoe (2-2) and Grimes (2-2).

The most noteworthy moment was Gobble’s first homer of the season. When she barreled Davie’s 17th bomb, she became the eighth different War Eagle to go yard this season, matching a program record. (Eight girls went deep in 2016.)

Nuckols, Delaney Parsons and Lankford shared the pitching duties. In her high school debut in the circle, Lankford struck out two of three batters in the third.

Davie (9-5, 7-1 CPC) remained one game behind first-place East Forsyth.