Month: March 2024

Baseball wrap-up: Horton’s grand slam lifts Orange baseball past Topsail 4-1; Wake Forest holds off Cedar Ridge 3-0

Offense has been slow to come by for Orange baseball so far in the young season.

Thankfully, Tommy could hear their pleas for offense.

Well, it was really Ryan Horton, whose nickname is “Tommy” because that’s his middle name. Horton had never homered in a varsity game as he stepped up to plate in the sixth inning against Topsail on Monday night.

Then hit delivered the biggest swing of his career.

Horton delivered a grand slam, Orange’s third hit of the game, to provide a 4-1 win over Topsail in Hillsborough.

Junior Garrett Sawyer earned his second career win in relief of senior starter Cross Clayton. Sawyer allowed just three hits with four strikeouts in four innings work.

To say that Horton’s grand slam came out of nowhere would be putting it mildly. Orange had just two singles up to that point, and one of those rolled roughly 50 feet up the third base line off the stick of Henry Hoffman. Hoffman led off the fourth inning with a single to centerfield, the first ball to land in the outfield off an Orange batter. But the Panthers failed to lay down a bunt on the next at-bat and Hoffman wound up getting doubled up off a smooth play by Topsail catcher Gavin Schoenwiesner.

Orange (2-1) trailed the whole game. Topsail’s Rhett Britt doubled into right centerfield, the deepest part of the ballpark. With two down, Gibson Todd lined a 1-2 fastball to right field for the Pirates’ only run.

Senior Cross Clayton, with 13 career victories, started for Orange and threw three innings. After giving up the opening run, Clayton allowed just one more hit before yielding to Sawyer in the fourth.

Topsail starter Drew Shelar, making his varsity debut, kept Orange at bay. He threw five shutout innings and allowed just two hits and one walk. Caleb Kelley replaced Shelar in the sixth.

Orange freshman Kayden Bradsher opened the sixth with a leadoff walk. The Panthers nearly botched another bunt situation when Kelley caught a pop-up, then attempted to throw out Bradsher at first base. But the throw got away from first baseman Tyler Wilson and Bradsher moved over to second base. It was ruled that Cameron Guentensberger got hit with a pitch on the elbow, though Guentensberger didn’t seem to know it until the umpire motioned for him to move to first base. Clayton drew a walk to load the bases, leading to Horton’s first career home run.

Sawyer struck out Wes Atkinson and pinch-hitter Andrew Schmidt to open the seventh. Then Luke Keenan grounded out to Sawyer to end the game.

Wake Forest 3, Cedar Ridge 0: Facing the defending 4A Eastern Regional champions who were one win away from the state championship in 2023, Cedar Ridge didn’t back down in its home opener on Monday night.

The Red Wolves trailed 1-0 going into the sixth inning before James Bradbury scored off a double steal in the sixth inning. Bradbury drew a walk to lead off the frame.

Cedar Ridge’s Quinn Finnegan struck out five in four-plus innings, allowing just one run. The Red Wolves loaded the bases in the second inning against Cougars starter Jackson Hardy. Nick Aitkin reached on an infield single, Grant McGuffey lined a single to centerfield. Finnegan reached on a bunt. But the Cougars turned a double play when Kyle Brazeau caught a bunt and threw out Aitkin at the plate. Hardy got a strikeout to end the threat.

Then Brazeau drove in the first run of the game with a double that one-hopped the wall in right field. Ian Williams, who finished 2-for-4, scored after he started the inning with a single to centerfield.

McGuffey went 2-for-3 for Cedar Ridge. The Red Wolves are scheduled to travel to Carrboro on Wednesday. They will start its Central Conference slate against Walter Williams in Burlington on Tuesday night.

Softball notebook: Guentensberger hits walkoff single in Orange’s win over Roxboro Community; Cedar Ridge’s Lowry homers, throws shutout vs. Northern Durham

Orange 7, Roxboro Community School 6: In her first year as a starter, Addison Guentensberger came up with the biggest hit of her career in Orange’s first win of the season.

With the Lady Panthers trailing 6-5 going into the seventh inning against Roxboro Community School on Monday night, Guentensberger grounded a single up the middle to score Katie Carden to put the Lady Panthers past the Bulldogs. Earlier in the frame, Carden tied the game with a double to centerfield that plated junior Allie Carden.

Katie Carden, a sophomore third baseman, finished 2-for-4 with a double. Hayleigh Hammond finished with a triple. Guentensberger, in her second career start, came away 2-for-4 with the game-winning RBI.

Senior pitcher Caden Robinson earned her first win of the season, striking out seven in a complete game.

Orange (1-1) has had both of its games thus far come down to the final frame. Last week, Wakefield and Orange were tied 3-3, but the Wolverines scored four runs to win 7-3.

On Monday night, there were four lead changes. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning following Emma Brandon drove in Zoe Godard with a groundout to Mia Leathers at first base. Karrie Obie grounded out to shortstop Delanie Shaffer to bring in Katie Mann

Guentensberger led off the third inning with a screamer to right field. Sadie Cecil followed with a single that dropped into left field. After Hammond walked to load the bases, Robinson drew a walk to put Orange on the board. Allie Carden also earned a free pass to plate Cecil. Katie Carden put Orange ahead with an RBI groundout to RCS second baseman Molly Davis, which brought in Hammond.

Davis tied it up with a solo homer to leadoff the fifth. Orange jumped back ahead with a two-out rally in the fifth. Allie Carden and Katie Carden reached on back-to-back singles. Shaffer lined to right to bring in Allie Carden and put Orange ahead 4-3.

Davis responded with her second homer, a two-run blast after Presley Leonard walked in the top of the sixth to put the Bulldogs ahead 5-4. In the bottom of the sixth, Cecil drove a two-out double to left field. Hammond sent a fly ball off the wall in left field for a triple, scoring Cecil to tie the game.

Mann led off the seventh with a single, stole second base and went to third after Emma Brandon grounded out. Obie double on a line drive to centerfield to put the Bulldogs ahead.

Orange is scheduled to face the Morehead Panthers on Wednesday night in Hillsborough.

Cedar Ridge 4, Northern Durham 0: Charlotte Lowry did a little bit of everything as the Red Wolves improved to 2-0 on Monday night.

Lowry drove in the game-winning home run, struck out eleven batters and threw her second career shutout as the Red Wolves won in its first trip to the new Northern Durham High School. Lowry threw a six-hitter to improve to 2-0.

Mia Best finished 3-for-4 with a double for Cedar Ridge.

Lowry broke open a scoreless game with a solo blast to centerfield in the top of the fourth inning. Northern’s Annaclaire Spell led off the bottom of the fourth with a double, but Cedar Ridge’s Brittani Goddard forced a double play when Mason Browning lined to second. Goddard made the catch and threw to Laci Sykes to double up Spell.

Madeline Galindo-Woodirng walked to open the fifth inning, then stole second. Best scored Galindo-Woodring with a line drive to centerfield.

Cedar Ridge pulled away in the seventh inning when Galindon-Woodring opened with an infield single. Galindo-Woodring stole second again, leading to Best sending a double to left field to widen Cedar Ridge’s lead to 3-0. Goddard laid down a bunt and reached when the ball was thrown away. Best scored off the error.

Cedar Ridge will host Northern Durham on Monday in Hillsborough.

 

Stormed at the Castle–King scores 28 points to push Northern Nash past Orange 68-60 in state playoffs; Cloer leads Panthers with 30

ROCKY MOUNT–Past success for Orange men’s basketball has come incrementally.

In 2015, when Connor Crabtree and Logan Vosburg were sophomores, the Panthers reached the 2nd round of the state playoffs, where they lost to Havelock. A year later, they won the Big 8 Conference Tournament championship, again losing to Havelock in the 2nd round. By the time they were seniors, Crabtree and Vosburg led Orange to the conference regular season crown and reached the state quarterfinals. The only reason they didn’t advance further was a fluke injury to Crabtree against Triton in the 3rd round.

This year’s Orange team wanted to make a quantum leap. When Coleman Cloer, Kai Wade and Mason Robinson were freshmen last year, they simply wanted to reach the state playoffs, which they accomplished. After winning the Central Conference regular season and tournament championships last month, the first such titles since the days of Crabtree and Vosburg, some Panthers talked of winning the state championship.

On Friday night, they learned how difficult it is to immediately ascend to the top.

In front of a crowded Knights Gymnasium, senior guard Randall King scored 28 points and grabbed ten rebounds as Northern Nash defeated Orange 68-60 in the second round of the 3A State Playoffs on Friday night. The Knights (21-7) claimed its 15th consecutive win and will face 2nd-seeded Westover in Fayetteville on Tuesday night.

Cloer led Orange with 30 points, his sixth 30-point game of the season. The Panthers end the season 16-12.

Orange held the Knights scoreless in the final 2:43 of the first half and tied the game 24-24 going into halftime after a dunk by Cloer off a pass from Freddy Sneed. It concluded a second quarter where both team’s offenses seemed to be mired in quicksand. The Panthers went 8:04 without a field goal, yet the Knights were only able to extend its lead to 24-18.

Northern Nash roared out of the locker room with nine points in the opening 1:25 of the second half, keyed by explosive 6-foot-8 freshman forward C.J. Rosser. Hampered by foul trouble in the first quarter, Rosser opened the third quarter by firing in a 3-pointer from the corner. On the Knights next possession, Rosser grabbed a miss by King and laid it in. Orange committed consecutive turnovers that led to field goals by King and Trey Battle, extending the Knights lead to 33-24, a deficit that Orange would spend the rest of the night trying to erase.

King, who will play wide receiver at Campbell University, extended Northern Nash’s lead to 54-40 after a block by Chris Silver, a 6-foot-10 sophomore center, led to a lay-in by King with 5:45 remaining in regulation. Pennix triggered an Orange run with a 3-pointer off an assist from Kai Wade. Cloer would score off an offensive rebound and was fouled by Silver, who fouled out. Cloer then delivered his highlight play of the night with a dribbling exhibition against Battle, then sinking an 19-footer.

Pennix stole the ball from Rosser, leading to another lay-in from Cloer to cut the 54-50. After Mallory scored off a pass from Rosser, Cloer scored off an offensive rebound. Then Mason Robinson, who registered nine points, seven rebounds and seven blocks, grabbed a miss by Rosser, feed Sneed who delivered a pass for Cloer for a dunk to cut the Knights lead to 58-56 with 2:02 remaining.

King was fouled by Sneed and sank two free throws. Cloer missed a three-pointer, which led to King scoring off a steal and the Panthers didn’t score again until a late field goal from Cloer.

Orange jumped out to a 8-1 lead behind two three-pointers from Pennix. Sneed added two free throws to increase the Panther lead to 8-1. Orange shot 5-of-12 in the first half.

As was the case with Curritcuck County, Northern Nash thrived on the offensive boards. The Knights grabbed 16 offensive rebounds and outrebounded Orange overall 45-35. Trey Battle added eleven points and five rebounds.

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Alumni Update: Wilson opens eyes at NFL Combine

Photo courtesy of NBC Sports 

Payton Wilson: At the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this weekend, the former Orange High linebacker was among the names who increased their stock for April’s NFL Draft. Wilson completed the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds, the fastest among all linebackers. That placed him in the 98th percentile in terms of speed. Wilson also graded out in the 90th percentile in both on-field coverage and tackling. Wilson, Texas A&M’s Edgerrin Cooper and Michigan’s Junior Colson are considered the top off-ball linebackers coming out of the combine, according to NBC Sports.

Joey Berini:  The East Carolina baseball team went 2-1 at the LeClair Classic at Clark-LeClair Stadium in Greenville over the weekend. The Pirates defeated Purdue 7-1 on Friday. ECU edged Cal State Fullerton 2-1 in eleven innings on Saturday. Southeastern Louisiana jumped out to a big lead early and held off the Pirates 11-9 on Sunday. Berini started all three games at shortstop. The Pirates are 7-4.

Dante DeFranco: The Charlotte 49ers dropped two out of three games in a weekend series to Old Dominion at Bud Metheney Park in Norfolk, VA. DeFranco entered Friday’s opening game as a reserve. a 4-2 Charlotte win, in right field. DeFranco started at 2nd base in Saturday’s game, which the Monarchs won 4-1. DeFranco played as a reserve on Sunday as Old Dominion took the series 3-0. The 49ers are 6-6.

Jackson Berini: The Gaston College baseball team is now ranked #3 in Division II of the National Junior College Athletic Association. The Rhinos claimed two walkoff wins over Frontier Community College over the weekend. Berini went 1-for-1, starting at 2nd base as Gaston won 6-5 in six innings at Sims Legion Park on Saturday. The game was shortened to six innings because the opening game of the doubleheader went 17 innings, which the Rhinos won 8-7. Berini went 2-for-4 with a double and scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the 17th when he was driven in by Trent Murchison. Berini tied the game in the bottom of the 14th with an RBI ground out to first base. On Sunday, Gaston swept another doubleheader from the Bobcats. The Rhinos are 20-2 and have won eleven in a row.

Davis Horton: The Rockingham Community College Eagles salvaged a game against the Caldwell Community College Cobras on Saturday. The Eagles won 8-5 on Saturday. Horton scored three runs with a triple in the first inning, which put the Eagles ahead 5-0. Caldwell defeated Rockingham 8-0 on Sunday. Horton, starting at catcher, went 2-for-4. Rockingham is 5-14.

Owen Rasinske: The former Orange High swimmer is now a junior with Division II Barton College in Wilson. Last month, Barton’s men’s swimming team finished second in the Conference Carolinas Championships in Kingsport, Tennessee. Rasinske was part of the 400 yard freestyle relay team that was named All-Conference. Rasinske, Ethan Robinson, Ryan Mcanallen and Ethan Maddrey finished 3rd in the conference championships with a time of 3:04.97.

Roman Oguntoyinbo: After a year at a prep school, the former Cedar Ridge lacrosse midfielder has enrolled at Queen’s University in Charlotte, which is now a Division I school.

Chase Finley: The Division II Shorter University men’s lacrosse team improved to 7-1 with a 16-11 win over Thomas More University in Rome, GA on Saturday. Finley, starting as goalkeeper, made 12 saves for his seventh win of the season. On February 28, Shorter defeated Emmanuel 16-6. Finley earned another victory by making 13 saves. Shorter already has more wins this season than the 2022 and 2023 campaigns combined.

Tigh Metheney: The Division II Catawba College men’s lacrosse team defeated Tusculum 18-5 at Shuford Stadium in Salisbury on February 24. Metheney, a former Orange midfielder, scored two goals with four shots on goal. Catawba is 3-2 after an overtime loss to Barton College on Saturday.

Cy Horner: The Division III Methodist men’s lacrosse team defeated Warren Wilson 26-1 on Saturday at Monarch Stadium in Fayetteville. It was the first win for new head coach Ryan McKay. Horner had two goals and one assist on nine shots, seven of which were on goal. Methodist is 1-4.

Josiah Tisdale: The former Orange High defenseman is now a freshman with Methodist. He had two ground balls against Warren Wilson. Tisdale made his first college start against Randolph-Macon at Day Field in Ashland, VA on Wednedsay. The Yellow Jackets won 21-1.

 

Orange Panther of the Week: Kai Wade

This week’s Orange Panther of the Week is sophomore men’s basketball point guard Kai Wade. This season, the Orange men’s basketball team won the Central Conference championship, its first conference title since 2017. Wade’s explosive first step off the ball has become his trademark since he started as a freshman last season. His synchronicity with teammates Coleman Cloer, Xandrell Pennix and Freddie Sneed is evident with the way Wade runs the Orange offense. Another Wade wrinkle is his pull-up jumper, which he used to tie up the season-opener against Hillside in November, leading to an Orange win. On January 23, Wade had a season-high 20 points in the Panthers 75-67 win over Eastern Alamance, which put the Panthers in first place in the Central Conference for good. In Orange’s conference opener against Southern Alamance on December 14, Wade scored 15 points, but the Panthers wouldn’t have won without him. He stole the ball for a lay-in late in regulation as Orange erased a 5-point deficit in the final 28 seconds of regulation. Wade opened overtime with a 25-foot 3-pointer to put the Panthers ahead for good. Wade had seven assists in the rematch against Southern Alamance on February 9. Through 48 career games, Wade is at 572 points. He also won an OPAC Middle School championship at Gravelly Hill Middle School in Efland. He scored 20 points in 2020 as the Grizzlies defeated Phillips 45-37 in 2020.

Rocky Mount ends Orange women’s basketball season; Cedar Ridge’s Ware scores 18 points in final game vs. Scotland

While the Orange and Cedar Ridge women’s basketball teams were several counties apart in the opening round of the 3A State Playoffs on Tuesday night, they both had their chances to win.

And both fell short in frustrating fashion.

Cedar Ridge, making the 3A State Playoffs for the first time since 2018, fell to Scotland County 56-42 in Laurinburg. The Red Wolves end the year 13-13, its best season since the 2017-2018 campaign when they were coached by Felton Page.

The Red Wolves led by four at halftime. Amiyah Ware, in her final game at Cedar Ridge, scored 18 points. Junior point guard Sarah Utley finished with 16 points and ten rebounds.

Fighting Scots junior Morgan Thompson finished with 25 points as Scotland County, the 9th-seed out of the Sandhills Conference, advanced to face Fike in the round of 32 in Wilson on Friday night.

Cedar Ridge led 37-33 at the end of the third quarter following a running-one hander from Utley. But Scotland opened up the 4th quarter with a 14-2 run to take control of the game. The Red Wolves shot just 24%.

The loss ended the careers of Ware, Cameron Copeland, Cierra Copeland, Addie Reid and Jordyan Delph. Reid has been a three-sport athlete at Cedar Ridge and won the 2021 3A State Championship in volleyball. Ware’s legacy will be remembered in the record books as she set the Orange County record for most points scored in a game when she registered 54 against Western Alamance last year. She is the only player in the history of Orange County to score 50 points twice in a season. She scored 51 against Durham School of the Arts just two weeks after the game against the Warriors.

Meanwhile in Rocky Mount, Orange struggled in the second half and fell 43-26. The Gyphons never trailed and advanced to the second round to face Big East Conference rival Franklinton on Friday night.

Rocky Mount’s Keysha Mizzell led all scorers with 15 points.  She opened the game by scoring the opening five points, including a three-pointer. Orange’s Evelyn George countered with a 3-pointer, but the Lady Panthers would never get that close again. The Gryphons went on a 9-2 run, which Kaitlin White capped off with a 3-pointer to increase the lead to 14-5.

Orange closed the first half with a 7-0 run. Shannon Murphy started with a 3-pointer off a feed from George. In the final minute of the second quarter, George drained two free throws, then scored off a lay-in while getting fouled by Candrice Davis. Orange trailed 22-18 at the half.

Rocky Mount (19-6) shut out the Lady Panthers in the third quarter 19-0 using a full-court press that resulted in ten Orange turnovers. Not only was Orange unable to score. They barely got off any shots. Orange was only 0-for-3 in the third quarter and just 3-of-8 from the field in the entire second half. In all, the Lady Panthers committed 12 turnovers in the second half.

Rocky Mount’s Candrice Davis, who came out for White after she picked up her third foul, sparked the Gryphons with six points and three steals in the second half. In all, Rocky Mount had 17 steals compare to just eight for Orange.

26 points is a season-low for Orange.

George and Murphy led the Lady Panthers with seven points. Natalie Roberson had six points as Orange ended the year 13-13 under first-year head coach Lamont Jones. After Orange defeated Western Alamance and Walter Williams to open 2024, they were tied for first place in the Central Conference. But Cedar Ridge swept the season series from the Lady Panthers for the first time since the 2013-2014 season and was unable to regain the momentum to catch up with Western Alamance in the race for the conference championship.

It was the final game for Orange senior Lily Crayton.