Varsity softball tuning up for showdown

Published 6:25 am Tuesday, March 21, 2023

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

Davie’s varsity softball team headed into Tuesday’s showdown against West Forsyth with the wind at its back after winning three games in three days last week.

In a 7-2 home win over Reagan on March 14, Davie got big performances from its stars at the top of the batting order. Sydney Dirks, the cleanup batter, spiked a spectacular start to her senior season by clubbing two home runs. Leadoff batter Raelyn Lankford and No. 3 stick Summer Simpson also came up big as Davie beat the Raiders (3-4, 1-2 Central Piedmont Conference) for the 25th time in 25 tries.

Reagan stunned Davie with two runs in the top of the first, but the War Eagles took the lead in the third and never looked back. Simpson, Dirks and Carly Crouch reached base before Riley Potts hit a sac fly that put Davie ahead 3-2.

In the fifth, Dirks made it 4-2 by homering on a fullcount pitch. The dynamic Dirks went deep again in the sixth, this time with Lankford and Simpson aboard. That was the backbreaker as she went 2 for 3 with three runs, four RBIs and a walk.

At this point, Dirks was hitting .619 (13 for 21) and the two long balls moved her within two of the career record by Sierra Ferguson, who is now an assistant coach. Dirks has 17 homers, including three this season; Ferguson blasted 19 from 2015-18.

“The first one (in the fifth) was a moonshot,” coach Nathan Handy said. “North Davidson has been the only team so far to kind of pitch around Syd. Everybody else has pitched her straight up. It is surprising to me. I know if I was facing Syd, I would not be giving her much to hit.”

Simpson went 2 for 3 with two runs, a double, two steals and a walk, raising her average to .521 (12-23).

“Summer is such a good contact hitter, it doesn’t matter where you pitch the ball, she’s going to hit it,” Handy said. “Both of those hitters (Dirks and Simpson) are very talented.”

Lankford, only a sophomore, went 2 for 4 to maintain a .500 average (11-22).

“That’s why Raelyn’s leading off for us,” Handy said.

Potts got off to a shaky start, walking three in the first, but she was dominant after that. Over the last six innings, she permitted two hits, walked one and struck out six. She pitched a three-hitter on an “off” day.

“Riley wasn’t on because it was really, really cold,” Handy said. “She was struggling to grip the ball.”

Defensively, left fielder Jaydn Davis, shortstop Simpson and third baseman Lankford produced highlight-reel plays as Davie played flawless defense one game after committing five errors in a 6-5 loss to East Forsyth.

“Callie Jenkins was our left fielder, but she broke her wrist and she’s going to be out for a while,” Handy said. “Jaydn had a fantastic game. She had four catches. One of them was over her right shoulder at the warning track, and she had to go a long ways to get it.

“Summer made an excellent play. The ball was hit deep in the hole (between short and third), she dove for it and threw the girl out from her knees. That showed us what she’s capable of, even though we knew it. It was a long throw to first, and it wasn’t a one-hopper either.

“Raelyn had a shot hit to her in the top of the seventh. It was hit right at her face and it was ripped. Thankfully she caught it.”

Davie’s nine hits included one from Davis (1-4), Potts (1-3) and Carleigh Croom (1-3). Leah Grimes reached base three times (two HBPs, walk).

Davie 15, Tabor 0

A home game against Mt. Tabor on March 15 was a repeat of the previous 33 meetings. Davie, getting two hits from Lankford, Simpson, Audrea Fowler and Hanna Steinour, breezed in three innings. Potts and Addie Hendrix shared the pitching as the War Eagles moved to 3-1 in the CPC.

Davie 5, Montour 3

Montour, which annually makes a 400-mile trip from Pennsylvania to play several teams in the area, broke out to a 2-0 lead. Its No. 3 batter, Avrie Polo, slammed two home runs. Dirks failed to get a hit for one of the few times in two years.

And yet Davie still came away with the victory on March 16. The hero was the No. 9 batter, Croom, who had endured hard luck at the plate until she stepped up in the bottom of the sixth with the game tied 3-3. With Steinour on first, the sophomore cranked her first varsity homer to send Davie to its seventh win in nine games.

“She’s been hitting the ball right at people, and she got a little down on herself,” Handy said. “We had tried to bunt her multiple times and she didn’t get it down. When she came to the plate (in the sixth), we tried to do the same thing because we had a runner on first and we needed to move the runner. They expected it and brought their defense in. We took the bunt off and let her swing the bat.”

Polo’s two-run homer in the top of the first put Davie in its second 2-0 hole of the week. Again, Davie erased the deficit in the third, a rally that began with two outs and nobody on. Simpson got things going with a single. The Spartans sandwiched two errors around a walk by Grimes, and the result was a 2-2 tie.

In the fourth, Steinour doubled and scored on a hit by Davis. Polo’s second dinger tied the score 3-3. An inning later, Croom delivered her decisive blast.

The War Eagles handled a foe that smoked Central Davidson 13-0 the day before. They also avenged a 16-10 loss from a year ago.

“Montour has a really good team,” Handy said. “That was a good test for us. They put pressure on us.”

Potts worked a five-hitter while turning in her sixth complete game in nine starts, and her defense continued to play well (one errors in three games). Dirks, the second baseman, and Davis, who ran down a drive to deep left, had highlight moments.

“Syd made a play deep in the hole going toward second base and made a great throw to first,” Handy said. “It was probably three feet from the fence and Jaydn tracked it all the way and looked so comfortable making that play. She made it look easy.”

Notes: Davis (2-3) and Simpson (2-4) were the top hitters against Montour. Fowler (1-3, double), Steinour (1-2) and Croom (1-3) had one hit each. … Lankford (.464) had hit safely in all eight games before the Montour matchup. … The Davie record for most walks/hit by pitches in a season is 18. Grimes is on a ridiculous pace in that category, with 13 walks/HBPs in nine games.