Softball team bows out in first round

Published 12:31 pm Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

In the Davie softball team’s first-round playoff game, freshman pitcher Raney Phelps did everything she could, absolutely everything, to lift the War Eagles to the next round.

She put up zeroes in the first four innings and retired the first two batters in the fifth.

Unfortunately, Davie’s offense could not rise to the challenge, the defense made a critical two-out error and Davie suffered a 5-3 loss to visiting Cuthbertson on May 7.

Here’s Phelps’ excellent work: Through 4.2 innings, she had a three-hit shutout while setting down 14 of 17 batters. Davie’s offense, though, did not come alive until it was down 4-0.

“We were definitely impressed,” coach Nathan Handy said. “Raney pitched great. She stepped up big. It’s a playoff game and she had the best game that she’s had all season. She gave us a chance, and that’s all we could ask from her.”

It was 0-0 with two outs and nobody on in the top of the fifth. Alas, the third batter of the inning reached when a popup was errored. Then disaster struck. The next two batters walked. A single and a double followed as the Cavaliers burst to the 4-0 lead.

“It was not (Phelps’) fault,” Handy said. “She was hitting her spots and they just started hitting.”

To the War Eagles’ credit, they fought back vigorously. In the bottom of the fifth, a Cuthbertson error was sandwiched by a Landry Parsons single and a RBI double by Carleigh Croom. Phelps had a productive out that plated a run. Jadyn Davis roped a run-scoring double. Davie struck out with the tying run at second, but it was back within 4-3.

Cuthbertson got a run in the sixth and junior pitcher Georgia McConnell got the first two batters in the bottom of the seventh. It looked all but over.

But Davie made serious two-out noise. After Phelps kept her team alive by reaching on an error, Davis singled on a two-strike pitch. Then Hanna Steinour walked on four pitches. The bases were loaded with Davie behind 5-3. A hit likely ties it and a gapper could win it.

But Davie struck out to end the game and the season. It was a tough way to go out.

“It’s a tremendous amount of pressure for your season to be on the line with the bases loaded needing two runs,” Handy said.

Davis (2-4) and Parsons (2-3) both had two hits as Davie matched Cuthbertson with seven hits. Croom (1-4), Steinour (1-3) and Ashley Bledsoe (1-3) had one each, but Davie hurt itself by stranding eight runners.

Maybe Davie prevails if a Steinour drive goes another inch instead of falling for a double.

“Hanna hit a double in the game,” Handy said. “It hit the top of the fence and bounced up and came back in play instead of going out.”

On the bright side, the War Eagles will be a force to be reckoned with in 2025.

“We are still loaded,” he said after Davie finished 17-9, the same number of wins from 2023. “I think next year is going to be even better for us.”

Four War Eagles put themselves among the all-time leaders in the record book. They did not have their dominant pitcher the last five games because of injury. Riley Potts pitched 2.1 innings in the last seven games, and Davie’s only wins without her were against Mt. Tabor (twice) and Glenn.

Potts was ridiculous as a junior. She posted 14 wins to tie for third (Olivia Boger had 17 in 2017, Shannon Handy 15 in 2001 and Potts 14 in 2023). Potts has 28 career wins, 12 shy of Handy’s record. She holds the first two spots for single-season strikeouts (176 in 2024 and 155 in 2023). She’s the career leader in Ks with 356 (Handy had 341 and Boger 323). Her 1.50 ERA as a junior ranks seventh. She had a record 16 Ks in one game this year.

Davis had 12 doubles to tie for second (Sadie Lagle had 13 in 2012 and Jordan Schultz 12 in 2007). She tied for sixth with 33 RBIs. Her .471 average tied for 11th. She became the 12th War Eagle to deliver multiple .400 seasons. She has 20 career doubles, 15 behind Lagle’s record. She had four triples; Davis and Sydney Dirks are the only War Eagles to collect four-plus triples in two seasons. What more could you want from a sophomore?

Croom, a junior, had 14 stolen bases to take 10th place on the list. Phelps had 17 walks/hit by pitches to tie for fifth, just one from the single-season record.

Notes: The 16th-seeded War Eagles lost in the first round for the third year in a row. The No. 17 Cavaliers finished 12-12 after losing 7-3 to South Caldwell in the second round. … All four runs against Phelps were unearned. Raelyn Lankford did well in relief, giving up one unearned run in 2.1 innings. … Seniors Jaedyn Altiers, Gracie Garwood and Bledsoe suited up for Davie for the last time. … Handy is appreciative of all the people around him. “It’s not possible without them,” he said of assistants Sierra Ferguson, Courtney Stanfield and Bridgett Tierney and the folks behind the scenes. “Will Marrs is our scoreboard operator and the voice of our softball team. I appreciate Melanie Ferguson for keeping our scorebook again this year.”