No Waiting: Waitt’s four RBIs’, Honeycutt’s homer pushes Orange past Cedar Ridge 12-2
It’s spring break this week across Orange County Schools and Jason Knapp could use the rest.
To say he doesn’t sleep well after conference losses would be inaccurate. Usually, he doesn’t sleep at all.
Such was the case last Tuesday when his Orange baseball team dropped a 1-0 decision to Walter Williams in Burlington. The Panthers mustered two measly hits and only got one runner to third base. Despite a road trip back to Hillsborough, by 6 o’clock the next morning, Knapp was mowing his infield with bleary eyes and in no mood to mince words during his weight training classes later that day.
“I was in a bad mood and I was probably a little hard on the guys on Wednesday,” Knapp said. “I have a lot of them in weight training class and I was just not a happy camper. I have a lot of my players in my classes and I was cranky.”
His players responded by taking the final contest of a two-game set with Williams on Friday, with Orange winning a 1-0 decision in another game where offense was as scarce as finding the good parts in a Maroon 5 song. The Panthers again mustered only two hits, but Jackson Berini scored off a dropped fly ball to left field hit by Connor Nordan in the fourth inning.
On Tuesday night, the Panther bats came alive against its crosstown rival.
Senior David Waitt went 3-for-4 with four RBIs while junior catcher Ryan Honeycutt had his first varsity home run as Orange defeated Cedar Ridge 12-2 in five innings at Orange High Field.
Cedar Ridge’s B.J. Thornton went 2-for-3, including an RBI single in the fifth that actually reduced the Panthers lead to 5-2. Orange scored seven runs in the bottom-of-the-fifth to earn its third run-rule win of the season.
Cedar Ridge hasn’t won at Orange since 2012. The Panthers have won eight straight in the series overall.
Orange (10-2, 3-2 in the Central Carolina Conference) is now tied with Person for first place in the CCC. On Tuesday night in Pittsboro, Northwood defeated the Rockets 1-0 off a walkoff single by Jacob Garrett.
The Panthers played without senior Ryan Hench, who missed his eighth straight game. Junior Josiah Gibbs earned his third win, striking out six over four innings. The Red Wolves mounted its biggest threat when they loaded the bases in the fourth with Orange leading 3-0. Quinn Finnegan and Thornton each lined singles to left field. Grant McGuffey was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no one out. Third baseman Will Tippin sent a hard grounder to third that was misplayed, leading to Finnegan scoring. The bases remained loaded with no outs, but Gibbs struck out the next two batters. Orange centerfielder Cameron Guentensberger caught a flyball for the final out and contained the damage to one run.
Waitt, in his third year as a starter in right field, had the game’s biggest moments early. Moments after Nicholas Aitkin turned a 6-4-3 double play for Cedar Ridge, Waitt reached on a cue shot to third base. With Nordan at the plate, Waitt advanced to second off a passed ball, went to third off a wild pitch and scored when Nordan legged out an infield hit on a grounder hit to the hole in left field.
in the second, Cross Clayton was hit by a pitch. After Joey Pounds moved Clayton over to second with a sacrifice bunt, Jackson Berini reached on a fielder’s choice where Cedar Ridge’s Grant McGuffey threw out Neo Best at second for the second out. Elijah Santos walked and Waitt sent a worm burner to left field for a two-run single that plated Clayton and Berini and increased Orange’s lead to 3-0.
Before Cedar Ridge loaded the bases in the fourth, Gibbs struck out four Red Wolves over the first three innings. In the second, McGuffey walked and reached third after a single by Will Tippin. The Red Wolves tried to bring in McGuffey on a double steal, but Berini threw a strike to Honeycutt at the plate to retire McGuffey.
Cedar Ridge returned the favor in the bottom of the third. Cameron Guentensberger reached on a leadoff single, he reached third on a wild pitch. Cross Clayton sent a chopper to Tippin, who trapped Guentensberger in a rundown where catcher David Schoof tagged him out at the plate.
Orange increased its lead to 5-2 in the fourth with more station-to-station ball. Neo Best drew a leadoff walk against Thornton, stole second, went to third following a groundout by Berini to McGuffey. Santos sent a flyball to centerfield that was snagged by Isaac Anderson to score Best off a sacrifice fly. Once again, Waitt came up big with two out. He reached on an error and stole second. Connor Nordan laced his team-high 21st RBI to left field to make it 5-1 Orange.
Following Thornton’s RBI single, Orange broke the game open in the fifth inning. It started with a thunderous shot by Ryan Honeycutt over the left field fence that nearly hit the football/lacrosse field house across the caraway. Clayton followed with a double that hugged the third base line, which led to the first of three pitching changes in the fifth.
After reliever Mason Cates notched a strikeout, Best walked. Berini was intentionally walked after Clayton got to third base on a passed ball. Santos drew a bases loaded walk to score Clayton. Waitt groves a line drive single to drive in Berini (who leads the team with 18 runs) and Santos. Nordan, who finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs, lined a single to left to bring in Santos. With two out, Honeycutt narrowly missed his second home run of the inning with a fly ball that landed just shy of the fence. It was good enough for a two-run double to end the game.
Orange will travel to Cedar Ridge on Thursday night at 6PM to complete the two-game series.
Crabtree’s RBI single, Robinson’s home run rallies Orange softball past Person 4-2
Everything the Orange softball team has earned this year, they’ve taken the hard way.
The Lady Panthers are waging battle in a Central Carolina Conference so steep with talent, it might as well be called the PAC-12 East. There’s Eastern Alamance, the defending 3A State Champions, who lost starting pitcher Kenna Raye Dark to UNC after graduation last summer and is still a threat to win the league. Western Alamance has Taylor Apple, an East Carolina commitment who is one of the best all-around players in the state.
Last year, the Warriors lost in the third round of the state playoffs to Person, who return another top pitcher in Delaney Glover, a commitment to Binghamton University. The Rockets would eventually reach the state quarterfinals, where they fell to the Eagles 4-3 despite taking an early 2-0 lead against Dark.
In 2022, six of the seven CCC teams made the state playoffs. It would happen again now if the season ended today.
For Orange, a week that started in disappointment amid frigid temperatures against the top team in the league ended with their second straight come-from-behind win in Roxboro on a 70-degree day last Friday, nearly breaking a century-old record.
Sophomore first baseman Rhiley Crabtree lined a single down the right field line to score Savannah Wynn in the top of the sixth inning to pull Orange into the lead, while pitcher Caden Robinson added insurance with a solo blast in the seventh inning to push the Lady Panthers past Person 4-2 on Friday in Roxboro.
Robinson earned her fourth win of the season in the circle with eleven strikeouts. She allowed only four hits. After Person’s Liberty Jones drilled a two-run homer in the bottom of the third for the night’s opening runs, Robinson only allowed one more baserunner for the rest of the game. No Rocket touched second base after the third inning.
Going into spring break, Orange is tied with Person for third place in the CCC with a 3-2 league mark. The Lady Panthers will travel to Eastern Alamance on Tuesday.
For new Orange softball coach Rachel Peel, she’s had to deal with several spinning plates in her first months on the job. A former Orange player who went on to suit up at Furman and Meredith College, Peel has blended new starters like freshman Katie Carden and Crabtree with seniors like Carson Bradsher, Serenity McPherson, Kelsey Tackett and Wynn while dealing with the challenging CCC slate.
“We have so much competition at first base in general,” Peel said. “We have three players we could play there who have shown up. Rhiley has played well, but she can’t afford to let down because she has several people breathing down her neck. We have Mia Leathers and Natalie Roberson ready to step in. Mia had a great hit tonight. They’re all showing up and competing. That competition is breeding excellence.”
Trailing 2-0 going into the fifth inning, Crabtree led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch. With Brianne Foster at the plate, Crabtree advanced to second on a wild pitch. McPherson laced a line drive to the left field fence, which brought in Crabtree and cut Person’s lead in half. Glover ended Orange’s threat when she retired Bradsher and Robinson on consecutive infield pop-ups.
Orange quickly built another threat in the sixth when Sadie Cecil led off with a single to left field. Delaney Shaffer laid down a bunt to move Cecil to second. Wynn sent a screamer to left field, scoring Cecil and tying the game at 2. Crabtree followed with the game-winning hit on a single that dropped in front of right fielder Kaiden Hawkins to plate Wynn and give Orange its first lead of the night.
In the seventh, Robinson padded Orange’s lead with a laser to centerfield that cleared the fence. It was her fourth home run of the season.
Person still had six outs to mount a comeback, but Robinson wouldn’t allow them to even get a baserunner. She retired the final 12 Rockets she faced, including a strikeout to Allie Carden to end the game.
Orange (6-2) will host Falls Lake on Monday at 6PM at Orange Softball Field. Following the trip to Eastern Alamance, the Lady Panthers will play Northern Durham on Thursday at 6 PM in Hillsborough.
Alumni Update: Homsey becomes Ferrum College wrestling’s all-time wins leader
Braden Homsey: Homsey ended his senior season at Division III Ferrum College as the all-time wins leader in school history. Competing at the Division III National Championships at the Berglund Center in Roanoke, VA, Homsey lost his opening match in the 197-pound championship to Dylan Wellbaum of Adrian College. Homsey advanced in the consolation bracket by forfeit over Gage Linahon of Central College. Josh Harkless of Rochester Institute of Technology pinned Homsey in an elimination match. Last month, Homsey defeated Gable Crebs of Lycoming 10-2 to become the Panthers’ all-time wins leader with 110 victories.
Joey McMullin: McMullin ended a two-year stint with the Sandhills Community College men’s basketball team when the Flyers reached the National Junior Community College Division III National Championship game against Brookdale Community College on March 18. It was the third time the Flyers reached the national title game. Brookdale defeated Sandhills 90-82 in Herkimer, NY. McMullin scored six points in 12 minutes in his final game for the Flyers. He shot 3-of-8 from the field and also had two rebounds. On March 4, Sandhills won the Mid-Atlantic District championship when they defeated Butler County Community College 114-91. McMullin came off the bench to score 22 points in 21 minutes. He shot 10-of-14 from the field and grabbed six rebounds. In the opening round of the Division III National Tournament, Sandhills defeated Mohawk Valley Community College 92-85. McMullin had eight points and three rebounds. In the semifinals, Sandhills defeated Northampton Community College 88-78. McMullin had eleven points, one of four Flyers in double-figures. This season, McMullin was the second-leading scorer on the team with 14 points per game. He also averaged 3.8 rebounds per game. Sandhills ends the year 30-4 and the Region X Champions of the NJCAA.
Ashley Cowan: Cowan, who graduated from Orange in 2021, is in her freshman year as a gymnast at LSU. She made her college debut on February 10 against #5 Auburn. She registered an 9.775 on the uneven bars. Auburn was the dual meet 197.750 to 197.500. On March 10, Cowan registered a career-best 9.990 on the uneven bars as the Tigers defeated West Virginia 198.025-196.450 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rogue, LA. On March 3, during the Podium Challenge, Cowan scored a 9.850 against George Washington. The Tigers, ranked #6 in the country, finished 3rd at the Southeastern Conference championships in Duluth, GA over the weekend.
Bryse Wilson: As the regular season creeps closer for Major League Baseball, Wilson has appeared in six Spring Training games for the Milwaukee Brewers. On February 27, Wilson threw a scoreless relief inning against Kansas City. He surrendered one hit. Against Cleveland on March 3, Wilson started and threw two innings. He struck out four and allowed one hit. On March 13 against Cincinnati, Wilson threw three-and-two-thirds innings and allowed one hit. He had two walks and two strikeouts. In six games, Wilson threw 13.2 innings and had a 6.59 ERA with strikeouts and three walks. Milwaukee starts the season against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday.
Joey Berini: Berini is starting regularly for the #8 East Carolina baseball team this season. On Tuesday, UNC Wilmington defeated the Pirates 9-3 at Clark-LeClaire Stadium in Greenville. Berini finished 0-for-2. Over the weekend, the Pirates swept a three-game series from George Mason. Berini went 1-for-2 with a sacrifice bunt as ECU defeated George Mason 11-3 on Friday. Berini went 1-for-2 in the Pirates’ 8-1 win over the Colonials on Saturday. Berini hit his first home run of the season on Sunday as the Pirates rolled to an 8-0 win in eight innings on Sunday. This season, Berini is hitting .318 over 23 games, 22 of which he has started. He has two home runs with nine RBIs. After he spent much of 2022 at second base, Berini is starting at shortstop, the position he played at Orange.
Dante DeFranco: DeFracno has played 19 games this season for the Charlotte 49ers, who are in their final season in Conference USA. He is hitting .269 with eight RBIs. On March 18, DeFranco went 5-for-5 as the 49ers defeated Louisiana Tech 14-6 at JC Love Field in Ruston, LA. DeFranco had three RBIs and a double. On Sunday, DeFranco went 1-for-4 with two RBIs in the 49ers 8-1 win over Dallas Baptist at Hayes Stadium in Charlotte. The 49ers are 11-13, 3-3 in CUSA.
Phillip Berger: The all-time winningest pitcher in Cedar Ridge history, Berger has started his junior season at Division III William Peace University in Raleigh. Berger is 5-1 with a 3.41 ERA. On Sunday, Berger earned the win as the Pacers defeated Mary Baldwin 15-3 at Moxie Stadium in Staunton, VA. Berger threw five innings and allowed three runs off six hits. He struck out four with three walks. On March 18, Berger took the win as the Pacers defeated #17 Methodist 9-7 at the USA Baseball Complex in Cary. Berger surrendered only one run off four hits with three strikeouts. William Peace is 11-11, 4-2 in the USA South Athletic Conference.
Cooper Porter: The Pensacola State Pirates of the National Junior College Athletic Association are 26-7 overall. Porter has appeared in eleven games for the Pirate and is hitting .154 with one RBI.
Will Walker: In 21 games this season for the Pitt Community College baseball team, Walker is hitting .344 with two home runs with 19 RBIs. On Saturday, Walker hit a home run and finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs as the Bulldogs defeated Bryant & Stratton College 14-3 at Minges-Overton Complex in Greenville. On March 22, Walker went 2-for-5 as Pitt edged Louisburg College 11-10 in eleven innings. Walker drew a bases-loaded walk in the eighth inning to bring in the game-tying run.
Davis Horton: The 2021 Big 8 Conference Player of the Year, Horton continues to catch regularly for the Rockingham Community College baseball team. In 26 games, Horton is hitting .293 with 20 RBIs. He has a team-high 92 at-bats. On Sunday, in Rockingham’s 4-3 win over Surry Community College, Horton went 2-for-4 with an RBI double. He started at first base. In the opening game of Saturday’s doubleheader against Surry, Horton went 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI as the Eagles won 9-8.
Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week: Reagan Simmons
This week’s Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week is sophomore catcher Reagan Simmons. Through nine games this season, Simmons is second on the team with a .545 batting average. She leads the team with 14 runs and is second on the squad with 12 hits. She also leads the team with two home runs. Simmons started as a freshman last year and also played basketball. Playing extensively in 2022, she learned alongside seniors Takia Nichols, Ava Lowry and Olivia Aitkin, all of whom provided a valuable lesson in leadership. Among the highlights this season for Simmons is going 3-for-3 with an RBI single in a 9-7 win over Cardinal Gibbons in Hillsborough; going 2-for-4 with an RBI single in a 14-4 win over Northern Durham; and going 2-for-4 while scoring three runs against Seaforth in a 23-1 Red Wolves victory. Simmons has played youth softball since she was an adolescent. With Kimber Shambley and Charlotte Lowry, Simmons provides a youthful front that aims to propel Cedar Ridge back to the top of the Central Carolina Conference. Cedar RIdge travels to Eastern Alamance, the defending 3A State Champions, tonight in Mebane for its final game before spring break. First pitch is at 6PM.
Orange’s Abby Monteith and Caroline Cathey discuss overtime win over Cedar Ridge
A long battle for the Orange women’s soccer team against crosstown rival Cedar Ridge ended with a goal in the second overtime for the Lady Panthers. Caroline Cathey fired a shot inside the six-yard box that went off a player’s leg and into the net in the 94th minute for the game’s only goal as Orange defeated the Red Wolves 1-0. Cedar Ridge goalkeeper Addie Reid turned back shot after shot against the Lady Panthers and nearly earned the draw for the Red Wolves. At the opposite goal, Orange senior Abby Monteith earned her fourth clean sheets of the season. It’s been a gratifying week for Monteith. On Monday night, Orange returned to the Burlington for the first time since the 2022 3A State Playoffs last May. Orange defeated Williams 3-2. Last May in the state playoffs against Williams, Monteith suffered a torn ACL in the second half. Since then, Monteith went through a grueling period of rehabilitation to get back in game shape for her senior year. Last year, the Orange women’s soccer team became the first team in school history to reach the third round of the 3A State Playoffs. Orange will play at Durham School of the Arts tonight in its final game before spring break.
Orange softball’s Delaney Shaffer & Katie Carden discuss win over Cedar Ridge
It’s Thursday, but it’s already been a long week for the Orange softball team. On Monday night, the Lady Panthers played into the tenth inning against Western Alamance. With temperatures dipping into the upper-30s as the game crept past the three-hour mark, the Warriors came up with four runs in the tenth inning to win 6-2. Orange had the game-winning run only 60 feet away in the seventh inning after Carson Bradsher stole second base, then took third base off a throwing error. Less than 24 hours after the Western Alamance game, Orange turned right back around and defeated Cedar Ridge 14-3 at Red Wolves Softball Field. Junior second baseman Delaney Shaffer went 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Freshman Katie Carden, who has become a regular at third base in her young career, finished 2-for-5 with two runs scored. Carden laced a triple to left field with two out in the second inning and scored off a passed ball. Orange is 5-2, 2-2 in the Central Carolina Conference as they prepare for a crucial matchup just before spring break. On Friday, they travel to Roxboro to face Person, who the Lady Panthers defeated last year.
Orange’s Cameron Guentensberger & Elijah Santos discuss baseball win in Wilson
Not only did the Orange baseball team defeat the defending Big East Conference champions last Saturday night. They also ended the Wilson Curse. After disappointing performances in 2019 and 2022, the Panthers defeated South Central 8-7 on Saturday night at Historic Fleming Stadium. Senior Cameron Guentensberger earned his first save after his threw two perfect innings against the Falcons. Guentensberger also went 2-for-4, including a single during a four-run second inning. Junior Elijah Santos drove in a run with an RBI single to score Cross Clayton in the fourth. Santos was moved to 2nd in the batting order and went 2-for-4 with a double. The Panthers defeated a South Central team that advanced to the 3A East Regional finals series last season. After a win over Leesville Road on Wednesday night, the Panthers are 8-2 on the year. They will host Walter Williams on Friday night at 7 PM in Hillsborough in a critical Central Carolina Conference matchup.