Month: March 2023

Clayton’s ten strikeouts, Honeycutt’s RBI single pushes Orange past Cedar Ridge 3-1; Cates strikes out seven for Red Wolves

In a sport predicated on mistakes, there wasn’t much separating Orange and Cedar Ridge on the baseball diamond Thursday night.

There were two excellent pitching performances from two players on opposite ends of the experience spectrum. Orange junior Cross Clayton, still working his way back from an early season injury, made the tenth start of his career.

Cedar Ridge junior Mason Cates started for only the third time, the first time this season. He sure didn’t look it.

Cates survived an early hiccup to allow only three hits over four-and-two-thirds innings with seven strikeouts in a superb performance.

Clayton tossed a two-hit shutout over five innings with ten strikeouts, ultimately earning his second win of the season.

Orange’s defense, whose ability separated them from the rest of the Central Carolina Conference en route to the regular season championship in 2022, once again made the difference in its ninth straight win over their crosstown rival.

The Panthers scored unearned runs in the second and fifth innings, which proved to be enough to win 3-1 on another night where the margin of error was small. Orange won despite being outhit 4-3.

Orange (11-2, 4-2 in the CCC) swept its first CCC opponent in a two-game series this season. The Panthers will go into next week’s two-game set against Person in first place in the CCC. The Rockets, 3-2 in conference play, will host Northwood in Roxboro on Friday night with a chance to tie Orange.

Cedar Ridge (6-6, 3-5) had their chances to make things interesting late after B.J. Thornton lined a single to score Cates in the sixth inning, cutting Orange’s lead to 3-1. Immediately after Cates scored, a Red Wolf courtesy runner tried to advance to third. Orange left fielder Joey Pounds sent a sharp relay throw to cutoff man Jackson Berini, who had the presence of mind to throw to Clayton at second base, trapping the runner. Third baseman Neo Best tagged out the runner to end the threat and the inning.

“I’m proud,” said Cedar Ridge coach Bryson Massey. “I’m proud the way my team carried themselves. That’s what we really talked about after the loss the other night was fighting and competing and being us. We’re going to play the game of baseball and we’re going to do it the right way. I felt like we did that tonight.”

Orange senior David Waitt, who went 3-for-4 with four RBIs on Tuesday night, struck again in the first inning. He grooved a grounder that hopped over the mound into centerfield for a single. After Waitt stole second, Ryan Honeycutt stroked a base hit to left field and Waitt scored for the opening run.

Honeycutt, hitting in the cleanup slot in place of the injured Ryan Hench, had four RBIs in the series.

After that, Cates didn’t surrender another hit until the fourth inning.

Orange’s Wyatt Hedrick drew a leadoff walk to start the second. Hedrick moved to second on a stolen base, but Cates struck out Pounds and Clayton. Best sent a two-out grounder to second, but it was mishandled by the second baseman and Hedrick scored the first of two unearned Orange runs to increase its lead to 2-0.

“We made a few mistakes tonight,” Massey said. “But that’s going to be part of us this year. We’re going to make our mistakes now, but there are some young guys that are getting a lot of experience. Hopefully by the end of the year, we’re going to be hitting our stride. That’s the goal.”

Cedar Ridge’s first threat came in the third when Landon Dalehite reached on a dropped pop-up at first base. Isaac Anderson lined a single for the Red Wolves’ first hit with two outs. Cates sent a fly ball down the line in right. With no wind blowing to push it foul, Waitt was able to chase it down at the chalk and record the third out.

Quinn Finnegan started the fourth with a leadoff single, but Hedrick immediately turned a 4-6-3 double play to squash the Cedar Ridge opportunity.

Orange increased its lead to 3-0 in the fifth. Jackson Berini, who leads Orange with 19 runs, drew a one-out walk, moved to second on a steal and went to third after Waitt grounded out to Grant McGuffey. Connor Nordan sent a grounder to the shortstop, whose throw to first was low. Nordan collided with first baseman B.J. Thornton, which jarred the ball free. Berini scored while Nordan favored his right knee but was able to continue.

After Cates reached his maximum allotment of 105 pitches, Finnegan came in from right field to replace him on the mound. Finnegan quieted the Orange bats, setting down all seven Panthers he faced in order.

Junior Coltin Hedrick, who earned the win last week in relief against Walter Williams, picked up his first career save. He replaced Clayton in the sixth. Cedar Ridge had one more threat in the seventh after McGuffey drew a walk with two outs. Dalehite sent a fly ball to right field that Waitt nearly overran towards the line, but made the catch on his knees for the final out.


Alumni Update: Nichols named MEAC Freshman of the Week

Takia Nichols: Nichols earned her first college weekly honor by the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference this week. She was named the MEAC Freshman of the Week following North Carolina Central’s two-game sweep of Maryland Eastern Shore at Thomas Brooks Park in Cary. On Saturday, the Eagles rallied to win 7-6 with four runs in the bottom of the sixth. Nichols delivered a three-run homer to centerfield to score the game-winning runs with one out. It was her second home run of the game. In the third, Nichols hit a solo homer to right centerfield. In the second game of the doubleheader, Nichols went 1-for-2 as the Eagles defeated the Hawks 9-1 in six innings. It was Central’s first run-rule win of the season. Sunday’s game was halted in the fifth inning with the score tied 3-3. On Wednesday, Appalachian State swept a doubleheader from the Eagles at Parkwood Athletic Field in Durham. In the second game, which the Mountaineers won 7-3, Nichols went 2-for-3. She is already batting cleanup for a Central squad that leads the MEAC with 25 home runs in 27 games. Central is 5-0 in the MEAC.

Ava Lowry: Lowry is regularly starting at shortstop for the Division III North Carolina Wesleyan softball team, which is off to a 15-8 start. On Wednesday, the Battling Bishops swept a doubleheader against Guilford at Howorth Field in Greensboro. In Wesleyan’s 6-1 win in the opener, Lowry went 1-for-3 with an RBI. In the nightcap, which Wesleyan won 9-1, Lowry went 1-for-4 with a double. Pfeifer swept Wesleyan in a doubleheader last Saturday. In the opening game, Lowry went 2-for-3. On March 18, the Batting Bishops swept a doubleheader from Averett by scores of 10-2 and 17-9. In the opener, Lowry went 2-for-3 with a run scored. In the nightcap, she finished 1-for-2 with an RBI. Lowry has played in 24 games and is hitting .318 with two home runs and eleven RBIs. She is fourth on the team with 21 hits. She also has eleven RBIs.

Mary Moss Wirt: Wirt appeared as a pinch-runner for Elon and scored a run in the Phoenix’s 4-3 win over Monmouth on March 19 at Monmouth Softball Park in West Long Branch, NJ. Wirt also played in the Phoenix’s 6-2 victory over Monmouth. Elon is 13-17 overall, 7-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Tori Dalehite: On Wednesday, UNC Greensboro’s softball team defeated Charlotte 4-2 at Daughtridge Stadium in Charlotte. Dalehite appeared as a pinch-runner. On March 19, Dalehite appeared as a designated player in the Spartans 5-3 win over Gardner-Webb. UNC Greensboro has won nine in a row as they head into next week’s midweek game at UNC.

Lauren Jackson: On Wednesday, Jackson faced her former teammate at Orange High as Lenoir-Rhyne faced Catawba. Jackson went 1-for-1 as a pinch-hitter, but Catawba defeated Lenoir-Rhyne 7-5. Jaden Hurdle suited up for Catawba. On March 24, Jackson again appeared as a pinch-hitter and had a base hit as the Bears defeated Coker 7-5 in Saleeby Stokes Field. Jackson has played in 27 games, starting 22 of them. She is hitting .333 with one home run and 15 RBIs.

Olivia Aitkin: The Division III Amherst College softball team started its season March 12. The Mammoths are 13-3. Aitkin started in right field in her first college game and finished 2-for-2 in a 6-2 loss to Bethel University at Fortune Road Complex in Kissimmee, FL. Amherst rebounded to win five in a row. Aitkin went 1-for-3 in a 8-0 win over Kenyon College in five innings. She had an RBI sacrifice fly in a 16-0 victory over the University of New England. Against Carleton College, Aitkin had an RBI single as a pinch-hitter as Amherst won 12-1 in five innings. Aitkin has played in eight games, starting five of them. She is hitting .385 with three RBIs.

Grace Andrews: On Wednesday, the Catawba Valley Community College softball team swept a doubleheader from Cleveland Community College in Shelby. In the nightcap, Andrews went 3-for-5 with three runs scored as the Red Hawks won 15-3 in five innings. Catawba Valley won the opener 8-0. On Monday, Louisburg College, ranked #5 in Division III of the National Junior College Athletic Association, swept a doubleheader from the Red Hawks at Highland Recreation Center in Hickory. In a 11-10 loss to the Hurricanes, Andrews hit a solo homer in the fourth inning. She also drove in a run off a bases-loaded walk. Andrews finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBIs. Louisburg won the opening game 3-1, where Andrews went 1-for-3. Andrews is the leading hitter for Catawba Valley with a .427 average through 30 games. Catawba Valley is 24-6 overall, 11-3 in Region X of the NJCCA.


Cedar Ridge Red Wolves of the Week: Cierra and Cameron Copeland

This week’s Cedar Ridge Red Wolves of the Week are Cameron and Cierra Copeland. Since the time they started at Cedar Ridge, Cierra and Cameron have been unsung heroes for the athletic program. During the thrones of the COVID-19 pandemic, when fans weren’t allowed to attend games and basketball games were sometimes canceled in just a few hours notice, Cierra and Cameron were the backbone of the 2021 Cedar Ridge women’s basketball team. Often, the Red Wolves suited up only five players to play deeper teams. But that didn’t let that stop them from constantly competing. Last December, Cierra and Cameron both played as Cedar Ridge defeated Person to end a 39-game conference losing streak. Cierra and Cameron have also been managers for the Cedar Ridge volleyball team, which won the 2021 3A State Championship, the 2021 and 2022 Central Carolina Conference regular season and tournament championships. Currently, Cierra and Cameron are playing for the Cedar Ridge softball team, which are 7-4 and will resume its season against Falls Lake on Tuesday in Hillsborough.

Cedar Ridge Red Wolves of the Week: Cameron and Cierra Copeland

This week’s Cedar Ridge Red Wolves of the Week are Cameron and Cierra Copeland. Since the time they started at Cedar Ridge, Cierra and Cameron have been unsung heroes for the athletic program.

Cedar Ridge’s Quinn Finnegan & Mason Cates discuss baseball win over Northwood

The Cedar Ridge baseball team has its offense cranking in wins over Northwood and the North Carolina School of Science and Math last week. The Red Wolves defeated Northwood 7-1 at Red Wolves Field. Sophomore Quinn Finnegan became the first player to hit a home run at Cedar Ridge Stadium this season with a solo blast against the Chargers. The following day against NCSSM in Durham, Finnegan had another home run and finished with five RBIs. Against the Unicorns, the Red Wolves tied its season-high with 12 hits. Junior Mason Cates, who played first base, went 2-for-4 with two RBIs for the Red Wolves. Against Northwood, Cates had a double. Finnegan also took the victory on the mound in Cedar Ridge’s season-opener against Knightdale in February. Cedar Ridge enters tonight’s game against Orange with a 6-5 record. They’re fighting for a second straight trip to the state playoffs. Cedar Ridge will also have its annual Vs. Cancer game against Eastern Alamance on April 6th in Hillsborough. Cedar Ridge coach Bryson Massey will have his mustache shaved following the game, along with several players who have grown their own mustaches that pale in comparison to their head coach’s.

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Mustache Madness–Finnegan homers in Cedar Ridge baseball’s wins over Northwood, NCSSM

Next month, the Carolina Hurricanes will start growing playoff beards, an annual ritual for the 16 NHL teams that achieved enough to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Right now around the Cedar Ridge baseball program, it’s Mustache March.

On April 6, the Red Wolves will face Eastern Alamance for its annual Vs. Cancer game at Cedar Ridge Field. In the past, that’s led to head coach Bryson Massey getting his head shaved for charity. This year, Massey is growing a mustache, which will be shaved next week for the home date against the Eagles.

“I told the guys I’ll grow my mustache until April 6,” Massey said after the Red Wolves defeated Northwood 7-1 last Tuesday in Hillsborough. “We’ve had some players join us in jumping on the train. They’ve grown some out, but I think mine’s takes the cake, though.”

Sophomore right fielder and pitcher Quinn Finnegan took the cake at the plate last week against the Chargers. Finnegan skied a solo homer to left field in the fifth inning, his first dinger of the season. That’s no small feat at Red Wolves Stadium, probably the most pitcher-friendly park in the Central Carolina Conference.

Coming off a loss to Person where the Red Wolves notched only two hits on March 17, Cedar Ridge had an offensive explosion last week. The day after they defeated Northwood, the Red Wolves journeyed to the North Carolina School of Science and Math in Durham and stockpiled 12 hits, tying its season-high set in the opener against Knightdale, in a 18-1 win over the Unicorns in five innings.

“We came out and played really well at Person,” Massey said. “We had our bats hot tonight (against Northwood). As for Person, I told the guys that’s just baseball. We threw a great game in the second game against Person. We just didn’t swing it as well.”

Senior B.J. Thornton, the Swiss Army knife of the Red Wolves, earned the win against the Chargers with eleven strikeouts over six innings. In addition to being Cedar Ridge’s regular starting pitcher in its rotation, Thornton also plays four defensive positions.

Finnegan drove in the opening run against the Chargers on an infield single that scored Grant McGuffey, who drew a leadoff walk. With Thornton at bat, Finnegan added to the Red Wolves lead when Thornton reached on a dropped third strike. On the throw to first, Finnegan came in to score as Thornton won the race to first.

Northwood struggled to gain traction against Thornton, who threw 59 of his 95 pitches for strikes. Northwood only had one runner touch third base in the opening six innings. Jacob Garrett reached on an infield single in the third, but was stranded after Thornton struck out Jackson Shaner to end the frame.

Against Science and Math, Cedar Ridge opened with a RBI single to right field by Mason Cates, who finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Four Red Wolves had multi-hit games. Finnegan had an RBI double to centerfield to score McGuffey in the third, then belted a three-run homer in the sixth to increase the Red Wolves lead to 18-1.

Finnegan finished the game against the Unicorns with five RBIs.

Sophomore Landon Dalehite opened the fourth inning with a double to right field and eventually scored off a sacrifice fly by McGuffey. In the fifth, Dalehite hit an RBI single that plated Thornton.

In addition to Cates’ single in the third, he doubled to left field in the fifth, bringing in McGuffey. On the day, McGuffey went 2-for-3 with two runs scored. He also earned the victory on the mound throwing three shutout innings. Ian McGuffey took the save throwing three innings of relief. Designated hitter Will Tippin went 1-for-2 with three runs scored.

With the second game of its two-game set for tonight against Orange at Cedar Ridge Field, the Red Wolves are in the thick of the 3A State Playoff hunt with the Eastern Alamance series set to start next Tuesday. Until then, Massey will continue to wear his mustache until it’s time to come off.

“I get some funny looks when I go out in public,” Massey said.

Odds and Sods: Orange’s Schmid, Scully, Pell qualify for Track & Field Regionals; Men’s Tennis

Outdoor Track and Field: After winning the 3A State Cross Country championship in November, Orange’s Gabriel Schmid is looking to return to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association State Track and Field Championships.

Last week during the Raleigh Relays at Paul Deer Track at N.C. State University, Schmid qualified for the Mideast Regionals in the 3,200 meters, an event that he finished 2nd in last year during the state championships. Schmid finished 2nd in the relays at 9:06.93. That was the top time among competitors from North Carolina among 20 runners. Jake Liebert of Wando, South Carolina finished first.

Since winning the state championship, Schmid has competed all over the country. Earlier this month, he finished seventh overall in the Nike Indoor Nationals at the Armory in New York City. Running in the 2-mile championship, Schmid finished seventh overall at 9:09.46, which broke the school record. Schmid placed second in his heat.

Schmid finished 2nd in the 3,200 meters in the 2022 Eastern Regional Championships at Franklinton High School last May. He finished behind his teammate, Spenser Hampton, who graduated a month later.

In addition, two members of the Orange women’s track and field team qualified for the regional championships. It happened during Orange’s twi-meet against Person and Walter Williams at Auman Stadium on March 23. Junior Grace Pell won the high jump clearing 5-feet-two inches. Her teammate, Kathryn Scully, cleared 5-feet and tied for second. The NCHSAA minimum regional qualifying standards are 5-feet.

Scully also finished first in the triple jump at 31-feet, 8.5 inches.

Men’s Tennis: Orange 5, Cedar Ridge 4

On March 13, Orange held off Cedar Ridge at Panther Tennis Courts. The deciding match came at #3 doubles, where Brendon Kassler and Quincy Stanley won 8-5.

Cedar Ridge won the opening three singles matches. Josh Mayhew, who has reached the 3A State Singles Championship match for the past two years, won the #1 singles match 6-0, 6-0. Cedar Ridge’s Lev Bearman earned the victory at #2 singles 6-1, 6-2. The Red Wolves’ Walker Richards-Baker defeated Nathan Pavalonis 7-5, 5-7, (10-7).

Orange’s Brendon Kassler took another three-set match at #5 singles, winning 3-6, 6-0, 10-3. Panthers senior Cameron Foster prevailed at #4 6-2, 6-1. Stanley, a freshman, gained a split of the six singles matches with a 7-6 (7-1), 7-5.

Mayhew teamed with Leonidas Finley to win at #1 doubles 8-3. Orange evened the match at #2 doubles where Porter Pelphrey and Cameron Foster won 8-4.

Cedar Ridge 5, Walter Williams 3: On March 22, Cedar Ridge won its third overall match of the season in Hillsborough. Mayhew defeated Ty Lagana 6-0, 6-0 as the Red Wolves won four of the six singles matches. Richards-Baker, Colin Fulcher and Landon Richards also earned singles wins. Fulcher captured over Luke Williams 7-5, 7-6 (7-5).

Mayhew teamed with Bowen Wood to clinch the dual match win at #1 doubles with a 8-2 victory over Lagana and Andrew Brasington.

Orange 6, J.F. Webb 3: Orange swept all six of its singles matches to defeat the Warriors in a nonconfernece match on March 15. Porter Pelphrey, a sophomore, won at #1 singles 6-2, 7-5 over Ace Currin. Senior Joseph Clark defeated Aidan Bowen 6-2, 6-2. Sophomore Cameron Foster won over Josh Tomas 6-0, 6-0. Ryan Jouannet captured his match at #4 6-0, 6-0. Tristian Plummer won at #5 while Murilo Lopez won at #6. The Panthers are 5-4 on the season.

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.