Errors costly as girl’s softball loses

Published 12:52 pm Tuesday, April 4, 2023

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

Davie’s varsity softball team committed four errors at Carson on March 30, and the Cougars made Davie pay.

Sound familiar?

The War Eagles have only made eight errors in their nine victories. By contrast, they have made 13 errors in their four losses. They made five in a 6-5 loss to East Forsyth and four in a 7-2 loss to West Forsyth. And their generous defense was the main reason for a 4-3, 11-inning loss to Carson.

“We’ve had this conversation three times. You can’t win ballgames with four or five errors,” coach Nathan Handy said. “We had mental mistakes and miscommunication. We shot ourselves in the foot.”

Exactly one week after Davie and West Rowan played an instant classic that ended in an 8-8 tie after 12 innings, Davie and Carson battled for two and a half hours in another tense struggle.

The bottom of the second would prove costly. The Cougars scored two runs on a hit batsman, two errors and a wild pitch.

“The killer was the second inning,” Handy said. “They scored two runs without the ball leaving the infield. That’s just painful. That’s the inning you look back on. You take that inning away and we win.”

The starting pitchers, Davie sophomore Riley Potts and Carson senior Lonna Addison, were both awesome. In fact, through four innings Davie had no answer for Addison, who had a one-hitter going with eight strikeouts, the only hit coming off the bat of Carleigh Croom.

But Carson’s coach switched pitchers in the top of the fifth, and Davie pounced. Audrea Fowler, who entered her junior year tied for fifth in career home runs with nine but has gotten off to a slow start, made a big contribution with Hanna Steinour on first. She cranked a game-tying, two-run homer – her first blast of the year – off senior reliever Phoebe Cole.

“I don’t know what the reasoning was behind them switching,” Handy said. “I saw they had a big conference game the next day, so maybe they were thinking they could save (Addison) and not have to throw her the whole game. We hit the ball hard multiple times (against Cole).”

Addison came back to the circle in the sixth, but Davie was able to scratch out a go-ahead run as the meat of the order came through. Summer Simpson walked on a fullcount pitch. The next batter, Sydney Dirks, roped a double in the gap, scoring Simpson all the way from first. Dirks was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple, but Davie had a 3-2 lead.

“Syd was blocked from the bag,” Handy said. “The (third baseman) was about two feet from the bag and Syd had no path to the bag. We tried to challenge that call because Syd couldn’t slide to it. It’s hard to get those calls sometimes. There were multiple calls that could have gone either way.”

Like Addison, Potts was in complete control most of the night. Through five innings, she had a no-hitter with nine Ks. But Carson’s leadoff girl, Landry Stewart, gave the Cougars a spark in the sixth. She bunted for a hit, advanced on a sac bunt and later scored as Davie made two errors on one play. Now it was a 3-3 game.

“It was a dang good bunt,” Handy said of Stewart. “She’s a slapper, so she was already moving out of the box by the time she contacted the ball.”

Davie’s offense had a flameout after Dirks’ tiebreaking double, producing just two baserunners over the last five innings. Of course, a lot of that had to do with Addison, who worked a four-hitter for 10 innings with one walk and 11 Ks.

“Offensively, we struggled,” Handy said.

Potts had a three-hitter for 10 innings, but Stewart hurt Davie again by leading off the 11th with a double.

“If (left fielder Jaydn Davis) had been playing regular depth (Davie had moved her in because of Stewart being a slapper), we probably keep her to a single,” Handy said. “There was nothing Jaydn could do about it.”

After Stewart advanced to third on a bunt, Handy played it by the book and intentionally walked the Nos. 3-4 batters to load the bases. Not only did the walks set up the force, No. 5 batter Emily Kann was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, having failed to hit the ball out of the infield.

“They’re the three and four batters for a reason,” Handy said.

But give Kann credit for coming through under pressure, as she jumped on the first pitch and hit a walk-off single.

“We liked our chances, but she obviously took offense to us walking two batters to get to her and she hit it into right field,” Handy said.

It was a heartbreaking loss for the War Eagles, who are 2-3 in games decided by one or two runs.

“We have to figure out how to finish games,” he said. “We play a pretty tough schedule on purpose, so when we get to the state playoffs we’ve had those games that are decided late, that challenge us the entire game. It felt like a playoff game. It’s one you look back on and say: ‘We should have won that game.’ I hope we eventually figure it out. We’ve got to grow as a team. It’s a tough loss because we didn’t want to have to sit on a loss during spring break. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.”

Potts finished with a five-hitter, two walks and 12 Ks in a valiant effort. Only one of Carson’s four runs were earned.

Getting two hits from Croom and one from Davis, Simpson, Dirks, Steinour and Fowler, Davie outhit Carson 7-5. But Carson held a clear edge on defense, making just one error.

“Their defense played their butts off,” Handy said. “They made a lot of good plays that I was not expecting them to make. Kudos to them.”

Notes: Carson, which defeated West Rowan 6-1, improved to 7-4. … Davie slipped to 9-4-1 with the nonconference loss. … Croom has heated up after going 4 for 23 (.173) in the first eight games. The sophomore is 9 for 16 (.562) in the last five games, lifting her season average to .333. … Potts has 81 Ks in 64.2 innings, along with a solid 2.27 ERA. … Simpson (.547), Dirks (.536), Davis (.461), Raelyn Lankford (.395) and Steinour (.352) have the top five batting averages. … Two days before the Carson game, Davie feasted on visiting Glenn. Lankford, Simpson and Croom connected for home runs as Davie blew past the Bobcats 13-3 in five innings. Davis, Simpson, Dirks and Croom had three hits apiece. Trailing 1-0, Davie took control with a five-run second. … It was the ninth mercy-rule loss for Glenn (3-10). … Davie improved to 5-2 in the Central Piedmont Conference, trailing East Forsyth (7-0) and West Forsyth (9-1).