Southwest Wake: Sports

Mustangs jump on Apex early

The highly anticipated softball showdown between Middle Creek and the Apex Cougars for first place in the Southwest Wake 4A soon turned anticlimactic as Middle Creek took a six-run lead after two innings en route to a 9-4 victory.

“We never expected this,” said Middle Creek junior center fielder Megan Walker, who finished with two runs and two RBIs. “These games are always close, but we were able to jump on them early.”

The victory was Middle Creek’s 11th straight since a 2-1 loss March 11 to Apex. It also was the Mustangs’ second of the week after defeating Panther Creek 7-1 Tuesday as the Mustangs (13-1, 9-1) opened a two-game lead on Apex (11-3, 7-3) with four to play.

The margin of victory surprised Middle Creek coach Robbie Wray, but he had a hunch his team was in for a good day.

“I felt we were ready to play when we left school,” Wray said. “I told my coaches they looked ready to go.”

Apex started the game shaky as Middle Creek scored two unearned runs in the first inning. Alie Burghardt and Walker, the first two batters, reached on errors – a throwing error and a fielding miscue. After a fielder’s choice and a walk, Kiley Majette knocked in Burghardt with a single and Jenna Powell scored Walker with a single.

In the second inning, Walker delivered the big blow with a stand-up triple to right-center that scored Rachael Klass and Burghardt for a 4-0 lead.

“I got an inside pitch,” Walker said. “I knew where I wanted to hit it before I went up there.”

Walker came home on a wild pitch, and Lauren Panella scored the sixth run when she made it all the way around the diamond on a walk, two wild pitches and a passed ball.

Middle Creek found itself leading 6-0 before Apex’s clean-up batter made her first appearance in the second.

“It was nice to have a lead early,” said winning pitcher Devin Wallace. “It takes a lot of pressure off you.”

Wallace, a poised sophomore, allowed only one hit through four innings before she tired and allowed two runs in both the sixth and seventh innings. She finished with nine strikeouts in the complete-game performance.

Middle Creek’s other big bat was wielded by Powell with RBIs on a single and a double off the fence on the fly in left-center. She also scored one run.

Apex’s Olivia Chiarolanzio knocked in two runs with singles in the sixth and seventh innings.