FUQUAY-VARINA It took a few innings, but the Fuquay-Varina softball team got the bats going on Thursday night.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Bengals broke open a close contest with three two-run homers. A few innings and a few runs later, Fuquay-Varina closed out Holly Springs 11-1 in six innings of play to pick up a win in the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference opener for both.
“They’re always anxious to hit,” Fuquay-Varina coach Deb Clarke said. “We were a little ahead (of the picher). You saw we hit three or four groundballs right off the bat right to third base off our front foot, being anxious. We had to let the ball travel and hit it up the middle.”
Fuquay (2-1, 1-0) led 1-0 through 3 1/2 innings, scoring on an infield error.
But as the batters – who never struck out in the contest – got to see Holly Springs starter Tessa Miles a second time, they started to figure things out. Bengals centerfielder Aleyah Evans homered to score herself and Kaitlan Smith.
On the first pitch after a pitching change, leadoff batter Ashlyn Long, a shortstop, hit a two-run shot off Alyssa Brown.
“It took us some time to get warmed up,” Long said. “I just looked for a good pitch.”
Right fielder Taylor Smith singled and Logan Bowling hit the first of her two home runs, and the rout was on.
“We focus on that a lot. We want to be a strong hitting team,” said Bowling, a third baseman. “It’s always good to start conference play with a win.”
Gwendy Powell singled in Evans in the bottom of the fifth to make it 8-1. The game ended early when the Bengals scraped together three runs in the sixth – a solo shot by Bowling and a two-RBI double by relief pitcher Cathan Soto.
Pitcher Cassidy Keith pitched the first five innings in the win.
Hayden Parker, filling in at catcher, threw out two Holly Springs runners trying to steal second. Despite not having much time to practice on the field, the Bengals defense was solid with just one error.
“We always talk about it – if we don’t walk (batters) and we don’t make mistakes, we’ll be hard to beat,” Clarke said.
The Golden Hawks (1-1, 0-1) got on the board in the fifth inning when second baseman Latia Burt bunted to help score shortstop Meredith Bolt.
Holly Springs had no strikeouts, six hits and drew three walks but ended its last two innings with runners being thrown out – once trying to steal second and the other trying to turn a double into a triple.
Hawks coach Brittney Smith said much of this week was “trial and error” in learning more about her team. Holly Springs scored a big 6-5 win against Garner in nonconference action earlier in the week.
“We balance each other out, offensively and defensively. Where we’ve got speed with one, we’ve got a good bat with the other. It’s an even balance,” Smith said. “It’s pretty much a brand new team.”