385 pitches, 4 hours, 28 hits, 4 home runs … and nobody wins

Published 1:44 pm Tuesday, March 28, 2023

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

The Davie and West Rowan softball teams produced a game that they’ll remember forever. After 385 pitches, four hours of drama, 28 hits and four home runs, it was 8-8 without a winner determined, the action being suspended after the 12th inning by an 11 o’clock curfew.

When it comes to slugfests, that’s about as good as it gets.

“Both teams deserved to win that game so many times,” said coach Nathan Handy, who on Friday was unsure if the game will be completed or if it’ll go down as a tie. “Neither team wanted to lose that game and both teams fought as hard as they could. I hate the way it is currently stuck. We’re stuck in the 12th inning.”

The three-game week, however, started with disappointing loss to archrival West Forsyth.

WF 7, Davie 2

In a showdown in Clemmons that could have lifted Davie into a tie for second and knocked West out of first on March 21, the War Eagles got whipped – plain and simple.

Although both teams had eight hits, Davie’s inability to string hits together and four errors proved too much to overcome against a West team that ran its record to 9-0.

“The mistakes we made were at bad times and cost us runs,” Handy said. “You make four or five errors, you don’t deserve to win. And against a good team, you shouldn’t win.”

The Titans broke out to a 4-0 lead before Davie scratched for one in the third. Hanna Steinour and Carleigh Croom had hits before Jaydn Davis reached on an error. In the fifth, Davie cut a 5-1 deficit to 5-2. Riley Potts, Steinour and Raelyn Lankford had hits in the inning, but Davie would manage just one more hit as its three-game winning streak came to an end.

Davie’s high-powered offense was contained by senior pitcher Cate Etchason, who walked none and struck out seven.

“(Etchason) did a good job jamming us,” Handy said. “She threw a lot of changeups, and I guess we were not prepared for that many changeups.”

Other than Steinour’s bat, there were no silver linings. The sophomore went 3 for 3. “The shining star was Hanna,” he said. “She was on base every time.”

Notes: Davie-West has been an entertaining rivalry for a long time. Last year Davie claimed two of three meetings. In the last seven meetings, Davie has a 4-3 edge.

WR 8, Davie 8

The West Rowan-Davie nonconference game on March 23 was something to behold. The visiting Falcons carved out a 5-1 lead. Davie stormed to a 7-5 advantage. West rallied to tie in the seventh. In the last five innings, Potts (205 pitches) and West’s Arabella Shulenburger (180 pitches) put up four zeroes each.

Considering West (4-1-1) has fielded storied teams in the recent past, considering it had won the past six meetings, it was a great day on the whole for the War Eagles (7-3-1).

“I don’t know if either pitcher could have withstood many more innings,” Handy said.

In the third, West shortstop and Tennessee signee Emma Clarke broke the ice with a solo home run. But credit Potts for holding the superstar to 1 for 5, although she did walk twice.

“I’m not sure how far it went, but it went,” Handy said of the homer. “As soon as it touched the bat, we didn’t even have to look at it – you just knew. You can’t walk a batter like that every time. You’ve got to face her at some point. Riley did really well against her.”

Davie cut a 2-0 deficit in half in the fourth. Sydney Dirks tripled and came in on a groundout. But West took a commanding 5-1 lead in the fifth as Brooke Kennerly blasted a three-run homer.

“We really were in trouble at that point,” Handy said.

But in the home half of the fifth, Davie pulled a rabbit out of its hat and flipped a loss into a possible win. A four-run rally began with a single from sophomore Delaney Parsons, who was a seldom-used backup in the first 10 games. That hit only scratches the surface of her impact. She had four catches in right field.

“They were massive plays that she made,” Handy said. “She stepped up big. She could not have played a better game. She got her opportunity because of an injury, and she played huge for us. Without those catches, I don’t think we’re tied.”

After Parsons’ leadoff single, Croom, Davis and Summer Simpson all reached base as Davie pulled within 5-3. Then Dirks came through in typical Dirks fashion, slamming a game-tying homer.

“The whole place is going crazy,” Handy said. “They did walk Sydney her next at-bat, and we did the same thing with Emma Clarke in one at-bat.”

Davie put up two more runs in the sixth. Leah Grimes doubled and Parsons reached on one of West’s three errors. Hits by Croom, Lankford and Davis followed as Davie grabbed a 7-5 lead. Whew.

That felt like a knockout blow, but West responded with two in the top of the seventh to tie things at 7-7. Karen Simpson’s double plated the two.

“We should have won the game right there,” Handy said.

Dirks and Grimes were walked in the seventh, but Davie failed to score, and the game headed to extra innings.

The tension built in the eighth, ninth and 10th. In the 11th, West’s Simpson doubled and came around to score on a hit from the No. 9 batter, Taylor Keller. With two on, Clarke stepped up with a chance to break Davie’s back, but Potts got her to fly out to center, keeping the Davie deficit at 8-7.

In the Davie half of the 11th, the first two batters got out. Davis, a freshman, stepped in the batter’s box with tons of pressure on her to make something happen. She jumped on the first pitch and homered to tie the game at 8. Holy moly.

“We’re down to our last out and Jaydn cranks her first (varsity) home run over the left-field fence,” Handy said. “I think if we had a decimal meter on the field, it would match the Seattle Seahawks stadium. We don’t have a 12th man, but during that game we had a 10th man for sure. Jaydn has been clutch all year. Her batting average is through the roof. She’s outperforming any of our expectations.”

Potts, seemingly getting stronger as the game goes, retired the side in order in the top of the 12th. Davie’s offense threatened in the bottom half. Steinour singled and advanced on Grimes’ bunt. Potts delivered a single and Handy waved Steinour around third, only to see her get thrown out at the plate.

It was an absolute classic.

“I had told Hanna we’re going for home,” Handy said. “Everybody in that stadium knew we were going to try to score. Hanna is digging as hard as she can and the ball beats her there by about three steps. In the bottom of the 12th, we’ve got to send her home.”

Davie got clutch defensive plays from third baseman Lankford, shortstop Simpson, second baseman Dirks and center fielder Croom.

“In the 10th inning, with a runner on first, Raelyn took a ball off her chest – I mean a rip shot,” he said. “It rolled away from her and she still got the girl out at first (for the third out).

“They had runners on first and third in the 11th. Emma Clarke comes up with two outs. We have to pitch to her, plus their No. 2 batter had two hits. She hits a shot to center field and Croom jumped as high as she could or the ball would have left the stadium in less than two seconds. That’s how hard that ball was hit. It found Carleigh’s glove somehow.

“Summer came up with a huge play in the 12th to get the first out. She had to go to her right. She dove, got the ball and threw it from her knees.

“Syd dove for the third out in the 12th. It was a blooper. Syd laid out and made a diving catch.”

Davie’s administrators on hand decided the game wasn’t going past 11 p.m. We may never know who would have won this epic game.

“I’m super proud of the way we kept fighting and clawing back,” Handy said. “The defense was spectacular (with one error) and the offense was hitting on all cylinders (with 15 hits). Our girls put their heart and soul on the field. Both teams gave everything they had. I’ll never forget it, and I’m sure these kids won’t either because it was one heck of a game. No one wanted to leave the stadium no matter what time it was.”

Notes: Davie breezed past Parkland 18-0 in two and a half innings in Winston-Salem on March 24. … The War Eagles entered the week third in the CPC. West Forsyth is 8-0, East Forsyth 5-0 and Davie 4-2. The next two are Reagan (4-3) and Glenn (3-3).