Bledsoe hits huge homer; Potts out with injury

Published 1:35 pm Tuesday, April 30, 2024

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

In a heart-stopping comeback win over East Forsyth, Riley Potts broke a record that had stood for 23 years and Ashley Bledsoe was magic in a big moment. When Davie’s varsity softball team arrived in Clemmons for a showdown with a share of first place on the line, the War Eagles were riding their longest winning streak (nine) in nine years.

Then the bloom fell off the rose. Potts suffered what appears to be a season-ending injury in the second inning, Davie was blown out and it limped into this week’s Central Piedmont Conference Tournament.

What a gigantic bummer.

Davie 5, East 3

Potts, the junior strikeout wizard, broke a big-time record when Davie hosted East Forsyth on April 15. She fanned 13 to run her career total to 353, 12 ahead of the mark Shannon Handy put up from 1998-2001.

Even coach Nathan Handy has become numb to how good Potts is. Earlier this season, she broke her own record for Ks in a season.

“Our defense has even told me that sometimes they feel like they take pitches off and don’t even mean to,” Handy said. “They’re just so used to it at this point. I kind of get numb to it as well. It’s insane how hard the heart rate can get when they get a runner on third because you are not used to it. To be able to do what she’s done in two years, she has done so fantastic. Fred (Smith, former assistant coach) said when he saw her pitch as a sixth or seventh grader, he told her that she was special and she had an opportunity to do great things at Davie.”

The War Eagles had their backs against the wall in the bottom of the sixth, trailing 3-2. They pushed across three and stayed in the hunt for first.

“In truth, we probably shouldn’t have won,” Handy said. “East wanted revenge (for an 8-6 loss April 8) and they had us dead in the water. They played a great game. We had timely hits at the end of the game.”

East’s pitcher had retired seven straight War Eagles before Hanna Steinour (2 for 3) opened the sixth with a two-strike double.

“I don’t know which game it was, but I went up to Hanna and said: ‘Good hitters are going to hit. Everybody is going to go through a slump – everybody. At some point, you’re going to figure this out. It’s in your mind. The only way you’re going to build your confidence is to leave you in the four-hole where I really need you,’” Handy said. “This is two games after we put her back in the four-hole and she has just been on fire.”

Two pitches later, with courtesy runner Delaney Parsons on second, Davie exploded in relief/happiness when Bledsoe (2 for 3) launched a two-run, go-ahead homer. The manner in which the ball left the park was one of the wildest moments you’ll see. The center fielder had it in her glove before watching it slip out and land on the other side of the fence.

It was Bledsoe’s first homer since she hit two as a sophomore. She didn’t go deep in 15 at-bats in 2023 and had not left the yard in 36 ABs in 2024.

“We were down a run and needed to move the runner to third and I gave Ashley the bunt sign,” Handy said. “I guess she just missed (the sign), and then I gave it to her again. She missed it,  but thank God she missed it. Hey, coaches are not always right. By gosh in that instance, I was not right.

“She hit a shot to center field. She catches it (momentarily) but tips it over the fence for a home run. I’ve seen it happen on ESPN and in college games, but I have never witnessed that actually happening. And it could not have happened in a bigger moment, being down one with our backs against the wall. And Ashley deserves to have that home run and get us that win. Ashley has really come through for us. She has been a true leader. She was voted captain. She has had an amazing season to this point. That is something she will never forget.”

Davie was not done. Landry Parsons singled and Addie Brown walked. Then Parsons scored an add-on run on a wild pitch.

“Landry has been hot lately,” Handy said. “At some point in the game, we know she’s going to get on; she’s just one of those players. Whatever the job is, she will do it. She came through big for us against Lake Norman, and tonight she got a single that gave us an insurance run.”

Jadyn Davis (2-4) matched Steinour and Bledsoe with two hits. Parsons went 1 for 1.

Davie 15, Tabor 0

At home on April 16, Davis cracked her team-high fourth home run as Davie achieved its longest winning streak (nine) since taking 10 straight in 2015. Mt. Tabor sank to 3-9.

West 12, Davie 6

Davie and West Forsyth were trying to keep pace with Reagan when they met in Clemmons on April 19. Any hopes Davie had of beating West were crushed with one out in the bottom of the second, when Potts departed with an injury that will likely end her season prematurely.

Things went south in a hurry as West built a 7-0 lead before Davie got on the board in the top of the fourth.

In the first meeting on March 19, Potts fired a three-hitter with 11 Ks, although it wasn’t enough in 2-0 defeat. This one was all West, the injury damaging Davie’s psyche. Potts (1.50 ERA) left the field with 176 season Ks in 88.2 innings; we can only guess how many she would have ended up with.

The day ended with Reagan (11-2) and West (9-2) tied for first in the loss column. Davie slipped to 10-3.

Raney Phelps replaced Potts in the circle and went the last 4.2 innings.

“It hurt,” Handy said. “Riley may be injured to add salt to the wound. It’s the same injury from her freshman season – hip or back.”

The Titans collected 14 hits, two homers and didn’t commit an error. Davie only managed six hits, one each from Phelps (1-3), Steinour (1-3), Bledsoe (1-2), L. Parsons (1-2), Brown (1-2) and Carleigh Croom (1-3). Davie went down on strikes 11 times.

East 10, Davie 0

Adding insult to injury, Davie got stomped in a nonconference game at East Wilkes on April 23. The Cardinals are the real deal at the 1-A level, carving out an 18-3 record and beating West Forsyth 9-8 in eight innings before hosting Davie.

Potts had made 25 straight starts dating to 2023 before this one. Now the pitching weight will fall on Phelps, which is a lot to ask of a freshman. After making nine relief appearances, Phelps started and went 4.1 innings. Then Raelyn Lankford made her season debut in the circle.

It was a rough night. Davie had as many errors (four) as hits. Croom, Davis, Phelps and D. Parsons all went 1-2.

“We just played bad all around,” Handy said. “They are good, but it should have been close.”

Davie 15, Glenn 0

Davie closed the regular season with a breezy three-inning win over visiting Glenn.

The War Eagles (16-7) finished in the top three in the CPC for the 18th consecutive year. The final standings: Reagan/West 12-2, Davie 11-3, East Forsyth 9-5, Glenn 6-8, Mt. Tabor 4-10, Reynolds 2-12, Parkland 0-14.

The Glenn game was Senior Night for Jaedyn Altiers, Gracie Garwood, Bledsoe and Addie Hendrix.