Davie softball returns to glory with CPC title
Published 1:39 pm Tuesday, May 9, 2023
By Brian Pitts
Jaydn Davis did something truly cool, Riley Potts lived a dream by outdueling a senior counterpart in the circle for the second time in two games and Davie’s softball team won another gritty game to capture the Central Piedmont Conference Tournament for the first time in six years.
Third-seeded Davie upset No. 1 East Forsyth 5-1 in eight innings, and it was glorious. East had defeated Davie 10 straight times, and late in the game it looked as if the War Eagles were going to fall just short. But Davis’ legendary homer in the seventh changed everything. East pitcher Alex Brown was suddenly hittable, and Davie was on its way to a measure of revenge for 6-5 and 5-4 losses to East in the regular season.
West Forsyth hosted the three CPCT games on May 3-4.
“I’m happy for these seniors,” coach Nathan Handy said of Sydney Dirks, Leah Grimes and Summer Simpson. “They had never beaten East and they’d never won a conference championship. Two nights in a row we pulled it out. These girls don’t stop fighting.”
Both pitchers shined. East’s only run came in the fourth when Brown, a two-way star who bats cleanup, doubled to knock in a girl who drew one of Potts’ two walks on the night. On the other side, Davie’s defense helped Potts cruise by turning three double plays.
“We played the best defensive game that I’ve ever seen,” Handy said. “It was amazing to see. East got a runner on in every inning, and it’s incredible the amount of plays we made to keep them from scoring.”
Brown faced the minimum through four. The senior had a two-hit shutout through six. The title was going to belong to the favorite.
But then a freshman staged one of the most magical moments that you’ll see. Leading off the seventh, Davis jumped on an 0-1 pitch and drove it over the left-field fence. Davie would strand Dirks and Hanna Steinour at second and third, but Davis’ shot made it 1-1.
For the season, Davis was 0 for 7 against Brown before the seventh-inning bomb. She has two homers this season. The other came on March 23 against West Rowan when Davie was behind 8-7 with two outs in the 11th inning. (The game ended in an 8-8 tie after 12 innings.) That’s outrageous.
“I felt pressure but I was trying to talk myself down a little bit, shake off some of the stress and tell myself that I got this, I can do it,” Davis said. “I was just thinking hit the ball. I can’t even explain how I felt. I felt so happy in that moment, knowing that I did it for a second time. Whenever I was running the bases and came home and saw all my teammates’ faces, I couldn’t believe what I had just done.”
“It was a flashback to West Rowan,” Handy said. “Wow. What a moment for her. Our fans were going crazy, our bench is going crazy and you could see the air deflate out of East Forsyth.”
Despite the first two batters getting retired in the top of the eighth, Davie’s offense went … kaboom. Raelyn Lankford lit the fuse with a single up the middle. Davis hit a chopper over Brown’s head for a single, and then you could cue the Jaws music. Simpson drove one deep to right, it deflected off the right fielder’s glove and two runs scored. The fourth straight hit came three pitches later when Dirks mashed a two-run homer. Just like that, Davie produced four runs in a span of eight pitches.
Dirks is really something. She’s hitting .506 with 10 homers, putting her in a first-place tie with Sierra Ferguson, who had 10 dingers in 2017.
“Syd said she had a horrible game,” Handy said, shaking his head. “All she did was hit a home run.”
“She’s an amazing hitter,” Davis said of Dirks. “She’s got a powerful swing.”
East brought up the top of the order in the home half of the eighth. But Potts had no trouble putting away a formidable opponent, working around a one-out double and nailing down Davie’s first CPC title since 2018 and its first CPCT crown since 2017, when Dawn Lowery’s crew beat North Davidson 8-0.
Potts fanned seven, fired 83 of 121 pitches for strikes and moved into second place in single-season Ks with 147. Layne Grout (151 in 2002) has held the record for 21 years.
“Riley has been on fire,” Handy said. “We can’t praise her enough for what she has done for us the last two games. She has pitched two amazing games.”
Notes: Davie played outstanding defense against West and East (one error total). “Leah made some fantastic plays (at first),” Handy said. “You can’t say enough about Leah. She doesn’t get rattled. She never shows negative emotion. She’s as solid as a rock at first base.” … East slipped to 18-5. … Davie (17-6-1) has a five-game winning streak for the first time since 2018. … Davis (2-4), Simpson (2-4) and Steinour (2-3) had two hits each. … This was Davie’s third CPC title in 22 years. … Handy said his staff deserves credit for helping Davie get over the hump. His assistants are Fred Smith, Lindsey Custer, Bridgett Tierney and Ferguson. “Fred is like my co-head coach because we work together so well,” he said. “Lindsey keeps the book. Bridgett brings more energy than probably any player on our team. Sierra keeps a stat sheet that helps with their batters.” Oh, and don’t forget about PA man Will Marrs. “Will brings energy to our home games. We miss him at our away games. I’d be nice to have him everywhere we go.”