FUQUAY-VARINA — Fuquay-Varina’s three seniors made sure a young Holly Springs softball team was put away early Friday evening.
The Bengals, ranked No. 5 in The News & Observer area, cleaned up the Golden Hawks with a 15-3 win in five innings.
First-year Holly Springs coach MacKenzie Mangum played for coach Deb Clarke and helped build the Bengals softball tradition. Now she’s guiding her own program go through some rebuilding pains.
“Sometimes we just don’t know which team is going to show up,” Mangum said. “Earlier in the week we had one of our best games of the season, but that’s not the team that showed up tonight. We’re still trying to iron out the fundamentals.”
On Tuesday, Holly Springs (7-11, 6-8) took a 3-0 lead into the seventh inning against Tri-9 Conference leader Apex, but lost the game 4-3. On Friday, the Hawks contributed to their downfall with seven errors while Fuquay banged out 15 hits.
“They played Green Hope and Apex tight in their last couple of game, so we were prepared,” Clarke said. “I was nervous about the game, plus we had the emotions of senior day. But two of our seniors, Ashley Lindsay and Paige Canfield, led off the bottom of the first with hits. They set the tone and we went from there.”
Fuquay (12-3, 12-3) scored seven runs on five hits in the bottom of the first. The Bengals stretched the lead to 10-0 after two innings.
“And Heather Ratcliff, our third senior, pitched a great game, so it was a big game for all three of our seniors,” Clarke said.
Two of the Bengals’ losses have been to Middle Creek and Apex. Fuquay closes out its conference schedule with Apex on Tuesday. A share of the conference title is still possible, since Apex still has to play Fuquay and Middle Creek.
“We’ve been in the game in all three losses, so I feel it’s been a successful year,” Clarke said. “Right now we would be a three seed in the state playoffs and face another third seed. I’d like our odds in that. We play to win conference championships and go deep in the playoffs here.”
Sophomore catcher Megan Tarpey, freshman centerfielder Ashlyn Long, and Ratcliff have led the Bengals offense most of the season.
Holly Springs, which is holding steady as the fifth and final playoff team from the Tri-9, has just one senior on the team, outfielder Ka’la Jordan.
Mangum pointed to freshman centerfielder Alyssa Green, who had two of her team’s seven hits, and junior infielder Katlyn Hillesland as the leading hitters on the team. The Hawks’ two pitchers are sophomore Abby Snidemiller and freshman Ashton Jones.
“We’re young and we just need to keep the core of this team together,” Mangum said.