Knights give up first run in 22 days, drop road contest to Forsyth Country Day

BY VICTOR HENSLEY, News + Record Staff
Posted 4/16/21

LEWISVILLE — Sometimes, you need a wake-up call to bring you back down to earth.

Just ask the Knights.

The Chatham Charter softball team hopped on a bus last Thursday and traveled to …

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Knights give up first run in 22 days, drop road contest to Forsyth Country Day

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LEWISVILLE — Sometimes, you need a wake-up call to bring you back down to earth.

Just ask the Knights.

The Chatham Charter softball team hopped on a bus last Thursday and traveled to Lewisville to take on the NCISAA’s Forsyth Country Day Furies (7-2) having not allowed a run in 22 days.

In that span, the Knights were 3-0, winning by a combined score of 39-0, including 17-0 and 10-0 victories against the Carrboro Jaguars.

The Furies, though, presented a much tougher challenge, capitalizing on dominant pitching and racking up 11 hits in a 4-3 win, snapping the Knights’ four-game winning streak and sending them back on the road with another tally mark in the loss column.

“I just think we have kind of hit that lull where some of the teams we’ve played, we’re just so much stronger than them at the plate and defensively,” said Brittany Smith, the Knights’ first-year head coach. “Unfortunately, with who we have played lately, we have not seen as much action and I think we’re just flat-footed.”

Taking advantage of Chatham Charter’s complacency appeared to be the specialty of senior Emily Humphrey, the Furies’ starting pitcher, who threw a near-flawless game.

She pitched all seven innings, allowing just four hits and three runs (zero earned runs) while striking out 10 batters. If it weren’t for four errors by the Furies, there’s a chance the Knights get shut out.

Reaching base — via either hits or walks — hasn’t been much of a problem for Chatham Charter this year, but on Thursday, it was a struggle. The same can’t be said for the Furies.

“It was just, unfortunately, a game where we beat ourselves,” Smith said. “We missed some routine plays, we were a little flat-footed and it got in our heads and we just couldn’t make it.”

The Knights’ inability to make routine plays showed itself early after a triple by Humphrey gave the Furies’ junior third baseman Madison Willard a shot to drive in a run in the bottom of the first. She made contact, sending the ball rolling in between the Knights’ first baseman and shortstop — who weren’t in a position to stop it — and into the outfield, scoring Humphrey and giving her team a 1-0 lead.

Chatham Charter wouldn’t get on the board until the third inning when Willard made a couple of costly errors.

She bobbled the ball on a chopper to third base by Knights junior outfielder Olivia Cheek, putting her on first. Two batters later, Chatham Charter’s senior catcher Morgan Lineberry grounded into what should have been a fielder’s choice at second base, but Willard sent the ball flying over the second baseman’s head, allowing both Cheek and Lineberry to score, clearing the bases and giving them a 2-1 advantage.

The lead wouldn’t last long.

Humphrey hit her second-straight triple to lead off the bottom of the third, followed by a single by Furies’ sophomore first baseman Laura Bean to drive her in and tie the game. A couple of batters later, centerfielder Malaya Saliba singled, scoring Bean and retaking the lead.

Knights’ senior pitcher Sydney Bowman, despite allowing nine hits and four earned runs in five innings, threw the ball well, collecting six strikeouts and pitching out of bad situations in both the third and fifth innings to prevent an even larger deficit.

Smith said Bowman was also nursing injuries in both her shoulder and leg as the game progressed.

“Sydney’s always a machine for us,” Smith said. “She always works hard, she works through the shoulder pain, the leg pain. She pushed through when two or three innings sooner she was probably feeling it and ready to come out, but the game was close and she’s a super dedicated kid.”

After scoring on another error in the sixth, Chatham Charter sent out sophomore Chelsie Hardister to pitch the bottom of the inning, down 4-3, to try and prevent the Furies from expanding upon their lead before the Knights got a shot to tie it in the seventh.

Hardister struggled some, allowing back-to-back singles and a walk to load the bases with just one out, but dialed in and got the two subsequent batters out — thanks, in part, to a diving catch in the infield by freshman Delana Loflin — to escape a bases-loaded jam unscathed.

“I’m especially proud of the relief pitcher we had come in,” Smith said. “We had an injury there. She’s not pitched at all this year and you’ve got to be proud when they step up in that way.”

The Knights would be unable to muster a hit in the top of the seventh, dropping the game, 4-3, but never seemed to give up until the final out was recorded.

“At the end, it was a case of too little, too late, but I won’t say that they just rolled over and completely died either,” Smith said. “They did make a good effort at the bottom of our lineup and at the end of the day, in a game like this, all you can ask for is that you’re putting the ball in play and giving your best effort all seven innings.”

Chatham Charter has only lost two games this season, both by just one run. While Smith would have preferred to come away with the win, this might have been the wake-up call they needed after nearly a month of dominance.

“I am so proud of them,” Smith said. “They work hard for me at practice, we’re winning ball games. You can’t be mad about that. And the rest of our season, I think we’ll finish strong. I think we look good and I’ve been really proud of them. They’re a great group of kids. I definitely can’t be upset, even after this (loss).”

Reporter Victor Hensley can be reached at vhensley@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @Frezeal33.

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