Softball notebook: Robinson homers twice, takes win for Orange; Simmons drives in four in Red Wolves victory

Updated: March 20, 2022

It’s a new world for Hillsborough’s softball teams.

In the old model known as the Big 8 Conference, a team was only as good as its defense. Now, in the Central Carolina Conference that has brought Orange and Cedar Ridge league rivals from Alamance County, the team with the best pitching will be at the top of the standings once mid-May rolls around.

Realignment has made pitchers Eastern Alamance’s Kenna Raye Dark (who committed to UNC as a freshman) and Western Alamance’s Taylor Apple (who has committed to East Carolina) league rivals, which makes the margin for error microscopically small.

It’s something Orange coach Johnny Barefoot and Cedar Ridge head coach Allan Byrd, and his players, knew before the season even started. That notion was only reinforced after the first week of conference play.

On Monday, Western Alamance’s Taylor Apple threw a one-hitter against Cedar Ridge in a 11-0 victory at Red Wolves Softball Stadium. In as solid an all-around game as humanly possible, Apple struck out 15 batters, including the first nine Red Wolves she faced. At the plate, Apple hit a two-run homer in the game’s second at-bat, then added a three-run inside-the-park home run in the third.

Cedar Ridge’s only put four balls in play. Shortstop Ava Lowry, who singled in the fourth, was the lone baserunner of the day for the Red Wolves.

The next day, Western Alamance defeated Orange 2-1 at Orange softball stadium in a nail biter. The Warriors scored both of its runs off of a Panther error, with two out, in the first inning. This time, Apple threw a two-hitter, but Orange pitcher Gracie Walker hit a solo homer in the sixth. Orange’s defense held the Warriors to seven hits, and despite the early miscue, kept the Warriors off the scoreboard the rest of the way.

On Friday, the offense returned for both Cedar Ridge and Orange. Sophomore Caden Robinson hit two home runs, including an inside-the-park grand slam, in a 17-1 win in five innings over Walter Williams. Junior shortstop Carson Bradsher, who has committed to USC-Upstate, added her first home run of the season. The first eight Lady Panthers to come up to bat all scored. Bradsher hit twice in the first inning, leading off with an infield single. She stroked a first-pitch fastball over centerfield later in the frame. Orange sent eleven batters to the plate in the first inning.

Robinson struck out ten to pick up her second win of the season. Centerfielder Serenity McPherson went 3-for-3 with two RBIs. Alexa Latta-Harshaw went 2-for-3 with an RBI.

Meanwhile in Pittsboro, Cedar Ridge earned its first conference win over Northwood 15-5 in six innings. Senior Takia Nichols finished 4-for-4 with and RBI double. Freshman Kimber Shambley went 3-for-4 with a double and four RBIs. Catcher Reagan Simmons, also a freshman, finished with a career-high four RBIs, going 3-for-5 with a double.

Cedar Ridge opened with four runs in the first inning. The Red Wolves loaded the bases following a leadoff walk by Anaya Cater, a line drive single to right by Nichols and another walk to senior Olivia Aitkin. Senior Ava Lowry sent a fly ball to left field that landed for a double to bring in Carter and Nichols. Shambley sent a two-run single on a grounder up the middle.

In the second inning, Nichols drove in Carter, who reached on a fielder’s choice. Lowry lined to left field to bring in Nichols. Simmons knocked in her first run with a liner to left, plating Aitkin, who has committed to Amherst College in Massachusetts.

Freshman pitcher Charlotte Lowry, who has split time in the circle with Hayley King, earned the complete game win. Lowry is 5-2 on the season.

The Red Wolves (6-2, 1-2 in the CCC) face Orange (4-2, 2-1) on Tuesday at Panther Softball park.

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