Month: May 2023

Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week: Fleury Nicholson

This week’s Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week is sophomore soccer striker Fleury Nicholson This season, Nicholson was the leading scorer for the Cedar Ridge women’s soccer team. She amassed eleven goals and eight assists. Nicholson started the season with a hat trick against Northern Durham on February 27 at James Armstrong Stadium, where the Red Wolves came away with a 5-0 win. Nicholson scored the game-winning goal against Voyager Academy on March 6, a 2-1 victory for Cedar Ridge. In the Red Wolves’ first-ever game against Eno River Academy, Nicholson scored a goal as Cedar Ridge emerged with a 3-1 win at Red Wolves Stadium on April 5. In 34 career games for Cedar Ridge, Nicholson has scored 23 goals and 56 points. As a freshman, Nicholson scored 12 goals. In just her second varsity game, Nicholson had a hat trick in a win over Clover Garden School. In her first varsity game, she scored two goals in Cedar Ridge’s 5-0 win over South Granville. Cedar Ridge ended its regular season on Wednesday night with a 3-0 loss to Walter Williams in Burlington. Cedar Ridge is on the bubble to make the 3A State Playoffs. Regardless, Nicholson will continue to lead Cedar Ridge as she goes on with her career.

Orange’s Ryan Hench and David Waitt discuss baseball win over Cedar Ridge

The Orange baseball team will play for the Central Carolina Conference Tournament championship on Thursday night. The Panthers defeated Cedar Ridge 8-5 in the CCC semifinals behind a three-run homer from senior Ryan Hench in the sixth inning. Hench also earned the win on the mound, his first victory since March 8, when he suffered an injury against Grimsley in Greensboro. Hench threw four-plus innings and yielded just two runs off two hits. Senior right fielder David Waitt went 2-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to six games, which leads the team. Waitt had an RBI single during a 5-run second inning. Waitt also scored in the sixth when Hench launched a three-run homer. It was Hench’s third homer this season and his first in Hillsborough. The Panthers are now 21-2 as they gear up to face Walter Williams on Thursday night in Hillsborough. Orange has won 14 in a row. The Bulldogs handed the Panthers its last loss on March 21, a 1-0 defeat in Burlington. On March 24, Orange defeated Williams 1-0. The Panthers have won ten straight games against CCC opponents. The nine Orange seniors will be playing for its fourth championship on Thursday night. They won a share of the 2021 Big 8 Conference regular season championship, and captured the 2022 and 2023 CCC regular season championships.

Orange advances to CCC Tourny final after beating Cedar Ridge behind Hench’s 3-run homer; Finnegan homers for Red Wolves

The contrasts between Orange and Cedar Ridge’s baseball teams were apparent in their third and final matchup of the season on Wednesday night.

Orange, after winning the Central Carolina Conference regular season championship for the second straight year last week, is a team with nine seniors and eight starters back from last year. Cedar Ridge has just three seniors and three starters back from a squad that nearly eliminated its crosstown rival in the opening round of the state playoffs last May.

Even when Orange hasn’t been healthy, they’ve had the right combination of power, pitching and defensive prowess that has turned them into champions.

For all of Cedar Ridge’s inexperience, their grittiness has led them to a winning season, tied for 2nd in the CCC and back into the state playoffs for the second straight year.

The better sides of both teams were on display in the Central Carolina Conference Tournament semifinal on Wednesday night, but it was an Orange senior who has missed most of the season that had the biggest statement in several ways.

Ryan Hench launched a three-run homer in the sixth inning which proved to be the margin of victory as Orange held on to defeat Cedar Ridge 8-5 at Panther Field. Orange (21-2) will face Walter Williams in the CCC Tournament championship game on Thursday night at 6PM in Hillsborough.

“We had some walks and errors and that was uncharacteristic of us,” said Orange coach Jason Knapp. “We gave them a lot of free bases. They made us pay. If they don’t have one base running mistake out there in the fifth, it could have been a lot different. They’re a scrappy bunch and they’re going to give teams fits in the playoffs.”

Hench’s homer put Orange ahead 8-2, but Cedar Ridge’s scrappy nature wouldn’t let them go quietly. Sophomore Quinn Finnegan blasted a three-run homer to dead centerfield in the seventh. The Red Wolves rallied to put the tying run at the plate after B.J. Thornton and Grant McGuffey each drew walks. Orange junior Coltin Hedrick struck out Landon Dalehite and Ian McGuffey to end the game.

Orange, playing for the second time in two nights, struck for five runs in the second inning. After Ryan Horton and Cross Clayton drew walks. Neo Best laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance each runner 90 feet. Elijah Santos lofted a tricky soft pop-up that landed on the edge of the infield grass along second base that landed for a base hit to score Ty Walker, a courtesy runner for Horton. With David Waitt at bat, Clayton came in to score off a wild pitch to increase the Orange lead to 2-0. Waitt smashed a single straight up the middle to knock in Santos.

After Hench was hit by a pitch, Cameron Guentensberger smoked a worm burner up the third base line into the left field corner. Waitt jogged home while Hench sprinted in from first to increase Orange’s lead to 5-0.

Hench, making his fourth pitching start of the season after missing 12 games because of an injury suffered in Greensboro on March 8, earned his third win of the season.

Cedar Ridge fought back in the fifth. Nicholas Aitkin walked while Will Tippin was hit by a pitch, leading to Hedrick entering the game on the mound. Senior Issac Anderson took a 2-2 fastball and laid it into left field to load the bases. Mason Cates was hit on the hand to score Aitkin. Tippin scored when a Hedrick fastball got away from catcher Ryan Horton to the backstop.

Even after scoring two runs, Cedar Ridge still may have left some money on the table. With runners at second and third and the tying run at the plate with just one out, Finnegan lined out to Cross Clayton at second base. Clayton threw to Jackson Berini to double up Cates at second to end the inning.

The Red Wolves had a chance to draw closer in the sixth after a rare Orange miscue in the infield. Thornton drew a leadoff walk. Grant McGuffey sent a bouncing ball to second base, which appeared to be a potential double play. Somehow the ball bounced through Clayton’s arms and into centerfield. Thornton streaked over to third as the subsequent, errant throw from the outfield slammed against the fence beside the Cedar Ridge dugout.

With Thornton at third, McGuffey on second and no outs, Hedrick struck out three straight batters to retire the side and keep Orange ahead 5-2.

After Orange left the bases loaded in the fifth, they quickly mounted a threat in the sixth. Jackson Berini lined a single to left field, while Waitt walked. Hench belted his third homer of the season to left centerfield, which triggered an exchange of hostile words between the two benches after he trotted down the third base line.

Despite being down 8-2, the towel stayed in Cedar Ridge’s corner. Anderson led off with a single while Cates walked. Finnegan laid into the first pitch he saw from Hedrick and took it well over the centerfield wall.

Cedar Ridge was ranked #19 in the 3A East RPI rankings on Wednesday morning, making them a shoo-in for the state playoffs, which start Tuesday.


Orange baseball seniors discuss winning 20th game vs. Eastern Alamance

The Orange Baseball team has completed a 20-win season in the regular season for the first time in nine years. On Tuesday night, the Panthers officially completed the regular season with a 6-1 win over Eastern Alamance. Orange, the CCC Regular Season Champions, end the regular season 20-2 overall, 10-2 in the CCC. The Panthers won its last nine regular season games. Senior Connor Nordan, Jackson Berini, Joey Pounds, Ryan Hench, David Waitt, Neo Best, Ty Walker, Kent Melvin and Ryan Doherty were all honored in a pregame ceremony. Pounds earned the win on his senior night, his third of the season. Pounds threw five innings and allowed only one run off four hits. Berini had two doubles and added scored three runs, bringing his team-high total to 33. Waitt drove in the first run in the third inning with a single to centerfield. Cameron Guentensberger drove in Waitt with a groundout to third base. Best drove a single to left field in the fourth inning and circled the bases. He went to second off a groundout by Elijah Santos, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored off a wild pitch to put Orange ahead 3-1. Berini doubled and scored off an error. Orange has no time for rest. They will start play in the CCC Tournament on Wednesday night. The Panthers will host crosstown rival Cedar Ridge at 6PM.

Lowry homers, strikes out six in Cedar Ridge softball’s upset of Person 4-2; Cecil homers in Orange’s win over E. Alamance

At the beginning of Tuesday night, the Cedar Ridge softball team wasn’t in the Central Carolina Conference Tournament, which had been narrowed down to four teams.

By the end of the night, they were in the tournament, thanks largely to sophomore pitcher Charlotte Lowry.

With its game against Person tied 2-2, Lowry lifted a two-run homer to deep centerfield for the game-winning runs. Lowry, the Red Wolves pitcher, then protected the lead that she had provided her team by throwing a clean seventh inning to lift Cedar Ridge past Person 4-2 at Red Wolves Field.

Cedar Ridge officially surpassed Person for fourth place in the Central Carolina Conference and earned a spot in the league tournament. On Wednesday night, the Red Wolves will face CCC regular season champion Western Alamance in Elon.

Lowry threw a two-hitter to earn her sixth win of the season. She struck out six over seven innings. It was her seventh complete game of 2023.

Cedar Ridge catcher Reagan Simmons hit her seventh home run of the season to tie the game in the sixth inning. Grace Young reached on an error to begin the frame on a dropped ball at second base. Simmons drove a 1-1 fastball over the fence in centerfield, which is no small task at Cedar Ridge softball park where the centerfield fence is 228 feet, deeper than many college stadiums.

The runs had barely been posted to Cedar Ridge’s left field scoreboard before senior Anaya Carter stroked a triple to right centerfield with one out. That led to Lowry’s game-winning homer.

Person (9-9, 4-7), who lost 1-0 to Western Alamance last week, took the lead in the top of the fifth. Allie Carden led off with an infield single. Carden stole second, then advanced to third on an error. She scored when Camryn Clarke grounded to Carter at shortstop. Carter threw to the plate, but Carden beat it out. Clarke scored when Lindsey Melton laid down a squeeze play. Tori Carden threw to Kimber Shambley to retire Melton. Josey Harris, who reached earlier on a walk, was thrown out when Shambley threw to Carter, who was covering third for a double play.

The game was a defensive struggle most until the fifth inning. Lowry retired Person in order in two of the first three innings. Simmons’ leadoff single in the fourth was the Red Wolves only hit through the first five innings.

Orange 9, Eastern Alamance 4

As a prelude to their matchup in the CCC Tournament, Orange sophomore Sadie Cecil hit her first career home run to propel the Lady Panthers past the defending 3A State Champions.

With the win, Orange ties Eastern Alamance for second place to conclude the regular season. Tonight (Wednesday), the Lady Panthers will travel to Mebane to face the Eagles again for the semifinals of the CCC Tournament.

Senior Brianne “Breezy” Foster earned the win, throwing the final four innings in place of junior Caden Robinson. Foster allowed only two runs off five hits.

On April 4, Eastern Alamance pitcher Delani Straughan held Orange to five hits over seven innings as the Eagles defeated the Lady Panthers 10-3 in Mebane. On Tuesday, Orange connected for 12 hits off Sraughan in seven innings.

Orange struck for two runs in the third when Carson Bradsher lined a single to centerfield. Robinson stroked a liner to left for a double, easily scoring the speedy Bradsher. Freshman Katie Carden hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield to bring in Robinson.

Eastern Alamance freshman Rachel Byrd blasted a solo homer to left field to cut the Orange lead in half in the top of the fourth. Destiny Carriero tied the game with another homer that went over the centerfield wall.

Serenity McPherson put Orange ahead for good when she led off the bottom of the fifth with a single. With Cecil at bat, McPherson stole second. Bradsher slapped a single to center to bring in McPherson and put Orange ahead 3-2. Robinson followed with a grounder to left field, plating Bradsher. Following another hit by Katie Carden, Savannah Wynne lined a double to centerfield, bringing in Carden and Robinson.

Cecil hit a deep fly to centerfield in the sixth inning for a solo home run. Foster retired the Eagles in order in the sixth inning.

In addition to tying Eastern Alamance for second place, Orange also helped its RPI in the 3A East Region. Going into Tuesday night, Orange was #10 while Eastern Alamance was #11.


Orange and Cedar Ridge to play in reduced CCC Baseball Tournament Wednesday night

If the 2023 Central Carolina Conference baseball season was a movie, it would be called “Coaches Plan, Mother Nature Laughs.”

For instance, when Orange coach Jason Knapp released his scheduled in January, he had seven games scheduled for Friday nights.

A grand total of two of them went according to schedule. The other five were either postponed or canceled because of rain.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg in regards to scheduling headaches that Knapp and Cedar Ridge coach Bryson Massey have faced for the past ten weeks. On Monday night, the CCC Tournament was supposed to begin but didn’t since the regular season still isn’t over.

Last Friday, CCC Athletic Directors voted to streamline the tournament from seven teams down to four. Orange will host Cedar Ridge on Wednesday night in one semifinal. #2 Walter Williams will host #3 Person in Burlington.

The CCC Tournament championship game will be on Thursday night at the higher-seeded team.

Orange will officially end its regular season tonight when they host Eastern Alamance for Senior Night. It will be the final regular season home game for seniors Ryan Hench, Jackson Berini, Joey Pounds, David Waitt, Connor Nordan, Neo Best, Kent Melvin, Ryan Doherty, and Ty Walker.

The Panthers have already wrapped up the CCC regular season championship after beating Eastern Alamance 10-1 in Mebane. Under a seven-team format, Orange had a bye into the semifinals while the other six teams would have had to play on Monday. That granted Orange an advantage in pitching.

Now, in order to win the CCC Tournament, Orange will have to play three games in three days.

Not to mention that Cedar Ridge is hungry for a win over its crosstown rival. The Red Wolves haven’t won at Orange High Field since 2012, but they came very close last year in the 3A State Playoffs.

In the opening round, the Red Wolves led 2-1 going into the bottom of the seventh inning before Cameron Guentensberger scored David Waitt on a squeeze play to even the game. In the ninth inning, Davis Horton drove in Conner Funk with a walkoff single to centerfield.

With a state playoff birth already in the bag, Cedar Ridge will be playing to improve its seeding. The Red Wolves are currently #23 in the 3A East RPI rankings. If the season ended today, Cedar Ridge would face Northern Lakes Champion Carrboro on the road in the opening round of the state playoffs.

Cedar Ridge rallied from a 9-5 deficit to defat Roxboro Community School 10-9 last week at Optimist Park in Roxboro. The Red Wolves scored five runs in the seventh inning and got the game-winning run when Will Tippin was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, scoring Landon Dalehite.

For the first time since the beginning of the season, Orange has a healthy pitching staff. Against Eastern Alamance last week, Hench made his first pitching appearance since March 8. He struck out six over three shutout innings. Junior Josiah Gibbs earned his sixth win of the season, throwing three innings of middle relief. Gibbs also struck out six and allowed only one hit.

Orange is currently the #2 seed in the RPI rankings and will hope for a better conference tournament result than last year. In 2022, Person upset Orange 4-0 in the CCC semifinals in Hillsborough. Person’s Dylan England held Orange scoreless in five innings of relief. The Panthers mustered only two hits.

Against Eastern Alamance on Tuesday night, the Panthers will go for a 20-win regular season. The last time the Panthers won 20 games in only the regular season, it was the 2014 season when Bryse Wilson was a sophomore. The Panthers had to play a majority of its home games that season on the road because of an ice storm that did heavy damage to Panther Field in early March.