Month: March 2024

Wake Up Call; Carden hits grand slam, Robinson adds homer, Orange softball blasts Western Alamance 16-6

Since winning the final Big 8 Conference championship in the pandemic-shortened year of 2021, the Orange softball team has been lurking in the pack of the Central Conference as Eastern Alamance won two state championships and Western Alamance won the Eastern Regional championship last year.

On Tuesday night, the Lady Panthers put on a display so dominant, it may has served as a wake-up call to the rest of the Central Conference that they won’t be content with being merely a formidable team this year.

Junior Allie Carden hit the first grand slam of her career and finished 4-for-4 with seven RBIs as the Lady Panthers defeated Western Alamance 16-6 in six innings in Hillsborough. It was the first time that Orange defeated the Warriors since the two teams became conference rivals since 2022.

Orange senior pitcher Caden Robinson smashed a two-run homer run in the bottom of the third inning as the Lady Panthers set a new season-high with 16 runs and 15 hits.

Western Alamance (3-5, 2-1 in the Central Conference) lost 2023 Central Conference Pitcher of the Year Taylor Apple to graduation last summer. Apple is already pitching regularly for East Carolina as a freshman.

The Warriors still struck for three runs in the opening inning with its first four batters all getting aboard. Ryan Justice drew a leadoff walk, while Bayleigh Burris, Addison Beal and Kara Alday all walked to score the opening run. Senior Lela Kate Bakter sent a line drive to right field for a base it to score Burris. Then courtesy runner Andrea Bryant scored off a bases-loaded walk from Kyndal Wilborn. Robinson recovered to strike out the next three batters.

Robinson doubled to centerfield to send Katie Carden to third in the Orange side of the first. That’s when Allie Carden had her first big hit of the night, a double on a liner to center to score Carden and Robinson.

Orange took the lead in the third when leadoff batter Sadie Cecil reached on an error by Burris at shortstop. Katie Carden drew a walk, which led to Robinson’s three-run blast to put the Lady Panthers ahead 5-3.

The Warriors tied the game with a pair of runs in the fourth. Kayde Moore drew a walk. Justice sent a liner to left field, advancing Moore to second. Beal lined to left to score Moore and Justice and even things up at 5-5.

Allie Carden’s grand slam turned the tide of the game for good. Addison Guentensberger reached on an error by Moore at second base. Sophomore Payton Borland replied Guentensberger as a pinch-runner. Cecil walked. Katie Carden backed up left fielder Lela Kate Baker to left field before she hauled in the ball just shy of the fence. Western actually intentionally walked Robinson to get to Carden, which proved to be a mistake.

With the wind blowing towards left field, Carden fouled off a 2-2 pitch before taking a changeup low. Carden turned the payoff pitch to a laser into right field that buzzed over the fence. Carden got pats on her black helmet as she crossed home plate for the first grand slam of her career.

Alday hit a solo homer to left field to start the fifth to cut the Orange lead to 9-6, but the Lady Panthers would turn it into a rout in the bottom of the fifth. Borland singled to centerfield, followed by another hit from Cecil. Katie Carden grounded to second, where Cecil was thrown out at second. Robinson sent a double down the left field line to score Carden and Borland.

Freshman Anna Klein came in as the new Warrior pitcher. Allie Carden lined to centerfield to bring in Robinson. Delanie Shaffer singled, Hayleigh Hammond walked and Mia Leathers scored Carden on a groundout to second base to increase the Orange lead to 13-6.

Orange has  won five in a row after dropping its season opener to Wakefield. They will travel to Southeast Alamance tonight (Thursday) in Graham. The Lady Panthers will face Walter Williams on Friday night in Hillsborough in its final game before spring break.

Cedar Ridge Softball Notebook: Shambley hits home runs in wins over Person, Williams; Lowry strikes out 12 vs. Rockets

Cedar Ridge 10, Person 7: It will be a relief to many batters, but not many pitchers, that the fences at Cedar Ridge softball field are no longer the deepest in the Central Conference.

In fact, the old distance of 220 feet down the left and right field lines were longer than most college softball fields. On Tuesday night, Cedar Ridge pitcher Charlotte Lowry didn’t let the shorter fences stand in the way of a career-high 12 strikeouts.

Lowry allowed just five hits as the Red Wolves defeated Person for the second straight time. Last year, the Red Wolves defeated the Rockets 4-2 in Hillsborough.

Junior Kimber Shambley hit her first home run of the season with a solo blast in the third inning, which started a four-run frame. Sophomore Laci Sykes and Rylee Capps each reached on singles. Kaitlyn Nieves entered as a courtesy runner for Capps. Brittani Goodard grounded to pitcher Paisley Rigsbee, which allowed Nieves and Sikes to move up 60 feet each. Senior Cierra Copeland sent a single to right field to score Sykes and Nieves, which Goodard went to third base. Madeline Galindo-Woodring reached on an error by the first baseman, which brought in Goodard and increased the Cedar Ridge lead to 7-1.

Galindo-Woodring, the Red Wolves leadoff batter, legged out an infield single on a grounder hit to Person third baseman Camryn Clarke in the first inning as the Red Wolves grabbed an early advantage. After Shambley earned a four-pitch walk, Lowry reached on a dropped third strike The ball was bounced over the glove of first baseman Makayla Walker, which allowed Galindo-Woodring and Shambley to score the opening two runs. Cameron Copeland reported in for Lowry as a courtesy runner. Capps sent a roller to centerfield, scoring Copeland and giving the Red Wolves a 3-0 lead.

Lowry struck out the side in the first inning, setting the tone for the night.

Cedar Ridge 19, Walter Williams 0 (5 innings): Shambley homered for the second night in a row against the Bulldogs in Burlington as the Red Wolves improved to 6-1 overall, 2-1 in the Central Conference.

Pitcher Mia Best added three doubles. Best, who improved to 3-0, struck out eight over five innings.

The Red Wolves had a season-best 20 hits. They opened with five runs in the first inning. After Galindo-Woodring was hit by Bulldogs pitcher Madison Horner, Shambley sent a screamer to right field that cleared the fence. Best sent a double to centerfield. Capps followed with a RBI single to right field. Lowry stroked another double to left field to score Copeland.

Shambley sent an RBI double to fight field to score Galindo-Woodring to start the second inning. Capps added an infield single to increase the Red Wolf lead to 8-0.

Capps finished 4-for-5 with two RBIs. Shamlbey went 4-for-5 with six RBIs. Over the course of two nights, Shambley went 6-for-9 with two home runs and seven RBIs. Best finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs. Goodard registered a lien of 2-for-3. The Red Wolves finished with eight doubles, including one from Victoria Matthews.

Last Friday, the Red Wolves had a tight, 3-2 loss to Western Alamance in Elon. The Warriors are the defending 3A Eastern Regional champions. The Warriors scored all three of its runs in the third inning.

Cedar Ridge fought back with two runs in the fourth inning. With two out, Sykes stroked a single to centerfield. Shambley followed with a double to centerfield that advanced Sykes to third base. Goddard sent a bouncing ball up the middle for a two-run single that reduced the Warriors lead to 3-2.

The Red Wolves will travel to Southern Alamance, the 2021 3A State Champions, for its first conference matchup against the Patriots on Thursday night in Graham. The Patriots are 5-1 and won its Central Conference opener over Williams.

Miles drives in game-winning run to push Western Alamance past Orange baseball 4-3

ELON–As James Hinshaw threw out Ryan Horton for the final out in Western Alamance’s win over Orange on Tuesday night, a disgruntled Panther fan pulled up his lawn chair and bit his bottom lip as he started to the parking lot.

“That team has our number,” he huffed while sighing.

While Western Alamance hasn’t had a winning season in either year they’ve competed in the Central Conference, they do find a winning formula when they face the Panthers, the three-time defending conference champions.

On Tuesday night, the Warriors didn’t bring their “A” game, but what they came out with was still good enough to prevail.

A week after getting blown out by Person 13-3 in Roxboro, the Warriors edged Orange 4-3 at Warriors Field. It was Western Alamance’s fourth win over the Panthers in its last six meetings.

Orange (4-3, 0-1 in the Central Conference) had its 11-game conference winning streak , dating back to last season, snapped.

On a chilly night where fans were bundled up from the first pitch, Western Alamance pitcher Camden McCandless and reliever Sam Patterson didn’t allow any walks. Orange starter Josiah Gibbs and reliever Garrett Sawyer conceded four walks that proved to be costly.

In the sixth inning, Fred Harrelson, after striking out twice in his previous at-bats, drew a leadoff walk. Sawyer threw a wild pitch with Noah Huffine at bat. After Huffine struck out, Hinshawk grounded out to Henry Hoffman at third base, moving Harrelson over to third.

Jacob Miles, the ninth batter in the Western order, sent a bouncing ball to Cross Clayton at shortstop. Clayton didn’t charge the ball and his throw to first base was low, which Miles beat out. Harrelson scored the game-winning run.

Clayton reached on an infield single in the seventh with two out, but Horton’s groundout ended the game.

It was another trip to Elon where Orange struggled to put runs across the plate. In 2022, the Panthers won 1-0 when Jackson Berini stole home in the seventh inning to break open a scoreless game. Last year, McCandless held Orange to two runs off three hits in a 4-2 Warrior win.

The Panthers scored immediately on Tuesday night. Wyatt Hedrick singled to right field, then stole second. With two out, Clayton hit a pop-up in the infield, but the howling winds played games with the ball and shortstop Cooper Marks couldn’t find it and the ball well down in right field. Hedrick scored to put Orange ahead.

The Warriors got its own unearned run in the bottom of the first. Marks drew a walk off nine pitches. Eli Abbott laid down a sacrifice bunt that was thrown away by Gibbs. Marks rounded the bases to tie the game. McCandless reached on a fielder’s choice as Abbott was thrown out at second by Hedrick. Sam Patterson lined a single to centerfield, where Cameron Guentensberger threw to Hedrick trying to tag out McCandless, who was ruled safe on a close play.

The Warriors played some base running shenanigans as Patterson ran for second. Gibbs threw to Henry Hoffman, the second baseman, as McCandless ran for the plate. McCandless beat the tag to put the Warriors ahead 2-1.

Orange immediately tied the game when freshman Oliver Van Tiem laid down a bunt. McCandless’ throw to first went off Van Tiem’s thigh, leading Van Tiem to take second base. Elijah Santos sent a two-out liner into the wind to left field, which landed just shy of the fence. Van Tiem scored to even things at 2-2.

Huffine laced a one-out single to left field in the fourth. After Miles was hit by a pitch, Johnny Curtis came out as a courtesy runner for Huffine. Marks singled to right field, where Santos got a clean throw to the plate, but Curtis slid around Horton’s tag to put the Warriors back in front.

Orange had a two-out rally in the fifth inning when Guentensberger landed an infield single, then stole second. Clayton drilled an 0-1 fastball to the fence in left field, bringing in Guentensberger.

With Orange’s loss, six of the seven teams in the Central Conference already have a league loss. Southern Alamance, who defeated Williams 4-2 in Burlington on Tuesday, is atop the league at 2-0.

McGuffey hits walkoff single, Red Wolves baseball stuns Person 5-4 with 7th inning rally

On a blustery night when fans showed up wearing sweatshirts and blankets to bear the cold weather, the Cedar Ridge bats got hot at the right time.

Going into the seventh inning trailing 4-1, the Red Wolves stunned Person with four runs in its final at-bat to beat the Rockets 5-4 on Tuesday night in Hillsborough. Sophomore Ian McGuffey laced the game-winning hit to the right field gap to score Caden Thompson, sending the jubilant Cedar Ridge reserves pouring out of the dugout for an on-field celebration.

Going into the last of the seventh, the Red Wolves trailed 4-1 and had only one hit. Junior Quinn Finnegan served notice that something special was on tap in the 7th when he drilled the first pitch from Dylan England over the left field power alley wall, which takes extra power because Red Wolves Stadium in probably the largest in the Central Conference. It was Finnegan’s second home run in as many games.

England retired Kevin Jones for the first out, but Landon Dalehite drew a walk. Grant McGuffey got hit by a pitch, which led to David Schoof got drilled on the front leg by a fastball to load the bases, which led to Person coach Kyle Boyette choosing Brennen Kiser to replace England on the mound. Thompson replaced Schoof as a courtesy runner as Nick Aitkin stepped up to the plate.

Facing a 1-1 count, Aitkin turned on a fastball and sprayed it down the left field line. Dalehite and McGuffey scored to tie the game, sending Dalehite jumping up and down behind home plate as McGuffey rounded the bases. With Mason Cates at the plate, Kiser was called for a balk, advancing Thompson to third.

Cates was then intentionally walked, which brought up McGuffey. On a 1-1 pitch, McGuffey skied a fly ball that landed just shy of the fence in right centerfield. Thompson nearly bumped into several fired up reserves who rushed the field as he jumped up and down to plate the game-winning run.

It was the first loss of the season for the Rockets (5-1, 2-1 in the Central Conference), who swept a two-game set from Western Alamance to open the league slate last week.

Cedar Ridge (3-3, 2-1) started the game on a promising note. Freshman John Grove drew a walk with two-out against Person starter Keeghan Holmes. With Finnegan at bat, Grove stole second, then advanced to third off a throwing error. Finnegan was hit by a pitch. That led to the Red Wolves scoring off a double steal when Finnegan attempted to steal second, allowing Grove to race for home and cross the plate before Finnegan was tagged out by first baseman Casey Oakes.

Person tied the game in the top of the second with a double from Brady Holmes to score Holmes.

England replaced Holmes on the mound in the second inning and largely shut down Cedar Ridge’s offense. In his first four innings of work, he allowed only a single by Schoof in the fifth inning. Even that was canceled out when Aitkin grounded into a double play turned by second baseman Brady Holmes.

Person vaulted ahead 4-1 behind a three-run fourth inning. Brady and Keegan Holmes each drew a walk to lead off the inning against Cates, who started for the Red Wolves. After Camden Shaw laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Holmes and Holmes over, Nick Young reached on an error when he lined to first, scoring two runs. England then singled to centerfield, scoring Young.

Ian McGuffey’s walk off single led to him earning his win on the mound. He threw two innings of shutout baseball, striking out four. Cates threw five innings with five strikeouts and seven walks.

Cedar Ridge will host Seaforth on Wednesday night (tonight) in Hillsborough.



Softball Alumni Update: Dalehite homers against Massachusetts

Tori Dalehite: Dalehite hit her first college home run against Massachusetts in a 8-2 win for UNC Greensboro during the UNCG Invitational on March 9 in Greensboro. Dalehite hit a two-run blast to put the Spartans ahead 4-2. It turned out to be the game-winning hit. Dalehite also. had an RBI single in the fifth. She finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs. Dalehite went 1-for-3 in the Spartans win over Maryland-Baltimore County 7-2 to end the event with a 4-1 record. She started in left field. Dalehite opened the event by going 2-for-3 in a 5-3 victory over Merrimack. In the Spartans only loss of the event, a 2-0 loss to Massachusetts, Dalehite went 0-for-2. On Wednesday, Appalachian State defeated UNCG 6-4. Dalehite went 1-for-2 and scored the game’s final run.

Takiya Nichols: The North Carolina Central softball team opened its MEAC slate by dropping two-out-of-three to Howard ate Thomas Brooks Park in Cary over the weekend. Nichols started at first base on Friday, a 3-1 Eagles win. Nichols went 0-for-2. On Sunday, Nichols went 0-for-2 with a walk, but the Bison won 12-3. Nichols had her first home run of the season against North Carolina on February 27. The Tar Heels won 21-1.

Mary Moss Wirt: The Elon softball team was swept by UNC Wilmington at Boseman Field in Wilmington over the weekend. On Saturday, Wirt drove in the opening run of the game with a bases-loaded walk. Wirt started at catcher in a 8-3 loss. Against North Carolina last Wednesday, Wirt threw out Kayla Lee at second base in the fourth inning. Wirt started at catcher as the Tar Heels won 12-1 in five innings. Elon swept a three-game series against North Carolina A&T at Hunt Softball Park in Elon on March 8th and 10th. Wirt started at catcher in a 6-5 win to finish a doubleheader on March 8.

Carson Bradsher: South Carolina Upstate took two games in a series against Radford to open Big South Conference play over the weekend. On Friday, the Spartans defeated the Highlanders 7-1. Bradsher scored as a pinch-runner in the sixth inning to put Upstate ahead 6-0.

Grace Andrews: The Carolina Bruins of the National Christian College Athletic Association has won nine in a row. The Bruins swept a two-game series from Johnson C. Smith at the Field of Dreams in Charlotte on Saturday. Andrews went 3-for-3 with two doubles as the Bruins won the nightcap 11-1 in five innings. In the opener, Andrews went 1-for-3. Through 18 games, Andrews is hitting .382 with nine doubles and five RBIs.

Lauren Jackson: The Lenoir-Rhyne softball team is now ranked #20 in Division II. The Bears swept a two-game series over Coker over the weekend at Bears Field in Hickory. Jackson started as a designated player in Saturday’s 10-0 win over the Cobras in the opening game. Jackson went 0-for-1 with a walk. Jackson played as a pinch-hitter in L-R’s 13-3 win over Young Harris at YHC Softball Field in Young Harris, GA on Tuesday. She started in the opening game, going 0-for-3. The Bears are 27-5 and have won 13 in a row.

Olivia Aitkin: The former Cedar Ridge centerfielder started her sophomore season with Amherst last weekend. Aitkin played in right field and went 1-for-3 with an RBI double in the fourth inning, but Wisconsin Eau-Claire defeated the Mammoths 7-5. She started in right field and went 1-for-2 against Rampo College on March 17, but the Roadrunners defeated Amherst 4-3 in Clermont, FL. Aiken started in centerfield in Amherst’s opener, a 5-0 loss to Endicott. Amherst is 1-3 and will face the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point on Tuesday.

Ava Lowry: The Division III North Carolina Wesleyan softball team lost to Mary Washington on Saturday. Lowry, starting at shortstop, went 2-for-3 with a walk. Mary Washington took the opener 2-1. Lowry also started at shortstop. The Battling Bishops split a doubleheader against Guilford at Edge Field in Rocky Mount last Wednesday. Lowry went 0-for-2 in a 2-0 Wesleyan win in the nightcap. Lowry finished 1-for-3 with a double as Guilford took the opener 11-4. Wesleyan is 7-7.

Breezy Foster: Foster started at catcher as Wake Tech lost to Cleveland Community College 6-1 on Saturday at Buffaloe Road Athletic Park on Saturday. Wake Tech edged Cleveland 8-7 on Saturday. Foster played as a reserve in right field. Foster is hitting .227 over 15 games.

Orange baseball’s Ryan Horton and Garrett Sawyer discuss win over Topsail

The Orange baseball team starts conference play this week with plenty of momentum. Last week, the Panthers posted back-to-back shutout wins over Northwood and Grimsley. It’s been a strong start for catcher Ryan Horton, who hit his first varsity home run in a 4-1 victory over Topsail on March 4. Horton hit a grand slam in the sixth inning to win the game for the Panthers. Last week, Horton belted a RBI double to conclude a three-run first inning as the Panthers rolled past Grimsley 12-0. Horton also had a bases-loaded walk to drive in Wyatt Hedrick during an eight-run third inning. Junior pitcher Garrett Sawyer earned his second career win in the victory over Topsail. Sawyer relieved senior Cross Clayton and threw four shutout innings, allowing just three this. He struck out seven. Sawyer played his first varsity game last year in the state playoffs against Triton and was part of a memorable rally where the Panthers came back from five runs down to beat the Hawks 9-8 in ten innings. Horton is one of the few returning starters playing the same position that he played in 2023. Against Northwood on Wednesday, Horton had a single as the Panthers won 5-0. Orange will travel to Western Alamance for its Central Conference opener in Elon on Tuesday night.


Orange Panther of the Week: Alden Cathey

This week’s Orange Panther of the Week is senior long-stick defenseman Alden Cathey. For the past four years, Cathey has been a pillar of the Orange lacrosse team’s defense. He has been a part of three conference championship teams, the first squads to win a league title in the sport in school history. Cathey was huge in Orange’s season-opening win over Apex, the first of three victories over 4A teams so far this year for the Panthers. Cathey had two ground balls and created numerous turnovers as the Panthers captured its season-opener. Last week, in a tight win at Jordan, Cathey had seven ground balls. In December, Cathey officially signed with Division III Arcadia University in Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia. Cathey has paired alongside Sascha Van Praag, Josiah Tisdale, Nick Dardone and Braden Hunt over the past three years to help anchor Orange’s defense in front of goalkeeper Katie Wolter. In addition to playing lacrosse, Cathey has been a member of Orange men’s cross country team the past three years. Cathey has been a part of three conference championship teams in cross country, as well as two Mideast Regional championship teams. Last year, Orange finished 2nd in the state behind Croatan. This week, Cathey will suit up as the Panthers face Northwood at Auman Stadium on Thursday night in a rematch of last year’s 3A/2A/1A Eastern Regional championship game. Faceoff will be at 7 PM in Hillsborough.