Jordan-Matthews bests Chatham Central, 6-3, to repeat as conference tournament champs

The Jets defended their Mid-Carolina 1A/2A conference tournament title Friday


In the second straight matchup between No. 1 Chatham Central and No. 2 Jordan-Matthews for the Mid-Carolina 1A/2A conference tournament crown, the Jets prevailed once again.

Jordan-Matthews, the regular season conference co-champion with Chatham Central, won its second consecutive conference tournament title Friday after beating the Bears, 6-3.

For the Jets, one successful inning at the plate was enough to swing the game in their favor as both defenses made it hard to knock in runs.

With freshman pitcher Maddie Kaczmarczyk getting the start for the Bears and sophomore pitcher Lilli Hicks on the mound for the Jets, both teams remained scoreless until the bottom of the second inning.

Even though Hicks got behind in the count a few times, both pitchers threw strikes and gave the batters something to hit. But, when batters did hit the ball, the fielders didn’t often let it go by. Popups and flyouts caught in the playing field or in foul territory made it to where it required a defensive mistake to get a run on the board.

Chatham Central senior Kelsey Hussey, who was walked earlier in the bottom of the second inning, reached home for the game’s first run after Hicks committed an error while trying to turn a double play at second base.

Then, in the top of the third inning with two outs, Jordan-Matthews junior Marcy Clark tied the game with her first career home run that sailed over the left field fence.

“We needed to get started with hitting because we didn’t really have a push,” Clark said. “(Kaczmarczyk) just threw it perfectly, and I just hit it. Then, we all started hitting.”

The Jets couldn’t build on the home run immediately, though, as a walk and another popup out ended the inning. In the bottom of the third inning, Chatham Central junior Caleigh Warf sacrificed herself to bring senior Katherine Gaines home and give the Bears a 2-1 lead.

Yet, the Bears’ small lead was once again short lived.

Jordan-Matthews got on base six times in the top of the fourth inning, which included three hits and three walks. After sophomore Cassidy Graves and senior Reagan Smith got walked, senior Lia Carter hit a single to bring Smith home for the tying run.

Two at-bats later, senior Logan Gunter hit a triple to deep right field, bringing Graves and Carter home for two more runs. Clark capped it off with a double to right field in the next at-bat, sending Gunter home and giving the Jets a 5-2 advantage.

“I feel like we (made adjustments) well at the plate as a whole,” Jordan-Matthews head coach Holly Felder said. “Just shortening up and putting the ball in play, not trying to swing for the fences and bunting people over just to try to get people in scoring position.”

At the hands of Hicks and the Jets’ defense, Chatham Central continued to struggle at the plate throughout the rest of the game. The Bears only recorded three more hits and one run in the final four innings, going three up and three down twice.

In Chatham Central’s final opportunity to tie or win the game in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Bears were able to get three runners on base. However, one runner got thrown out at second base, and for the final out of the game, Smith, the Jets’ catcher, hopped up and hustled to the backstop to catch a popup from Warf.

“I got behind a lot, but my curveball started to work towards the end of the game,” Hicks said. “My defense works behind me. We had runners on base, and we shut the door on them.”

Jordan-Matthews will enter the 2A state playoffs on a six-game winning streak, shutting out Northwood and North Moore in the first two rounds of the conference tournament. The Jets will host their first round game as a high seed, entering the postseason with an older team that has developed with each other for the past two seasons.

“I think they have a lot of confidence moving into the playoffs,” Felder said.