High School Sports

Orange holds off Cleveland softball, advances to 4th round for 1st time

Orange Panthers logo.
Orange Panthers logo.

Behind the pitching of Kristina Givens and the threat of Mia Davidson, Orange advanced to the fourth round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A softball playoffs with a 5-1 victory over Cleveland Tuesday night at home.

Nursing a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth, Orange scored two runs to push the lead to 5-2.

Those runs came courtesy of the rulebook.

With Hayley Funk on second, Cleveland head coach James Morris wanted to put Davidson, the all-time NCHSAA home run queen, on first base without having to pitch to her. Orange head coach Cliff Davidson protested, stating that they had to pitch to Davidson with a runner on base. The umpire consulted Cleveland’s rulebook and determined that Davidson could take first without seeing a pitch.

Unfortunately for Cleveland, they had the wrong rulebook.

“They came out there with the high school rulebook for slow pitch high school ball,” said coach Davidson.

Cleveland pitcher Anna Kate Gilchrist sailed the first pitch to Mia high, allowing Funk to take third. She then sailed the fourth ball high, leading to Funk scoring on a wild pitch. It was the third run on a wild pitch that Orange had scored in the game. After a throwing error to second, Mia ended up on third. The next batter, Abigail Hamlett wasted no time driving her in with a line drive single.

Just like that, Orange’s 3-2 lead became 5-2.

“I wanted them to pitch to her because a lot of times they pitch so far outside that the catcher, as you could see, has a passed ball,” said Davidson. “That worked out good.”

The two extra runs were more than enough for Orange starting pitcher Givens, who went three up, three down to record the victory. Givens pitched a complete game, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out ten.

“Kristina is the mentally toughest pitcher I’ve ever said,” said Davidson. “She is the best pitcher in this conference and the best pitcher I’ve seen in 3A.”

Part of Kristina’s success can be attributed to her catcher, Mia, who she’s played with since the seventh grade. The two have a confidence and trust level between pitcher and catcher that can only be formed through strenuous repetition.

“We’re like two peas in a pod,” said Mia. “We know how to talk to each other and calm each other down or pick each other up when we need to.” Kristina just smiled, saying, “we have a pretty good bond.”

Coach Davidson knows that trust level has a huge impact on the performance of both ladies.

“Kristina doesn’t worry about throwing the ball in the dirt. Mia knows her spins, she knows how to set up for each batter. It’s a special relationship because they’ve been together for so long.”

This victory marks the first time that Orange has advanced past in the third round in school history. Last year, Davidson coached Orange to a 23-4 record, but lost in the third round. He calls this years 21-2 team better than last year’s group and credits his seniors for building chemistry with the younger players.

“If we continue to play like this, we have a good chance at going all the way,” said Davidson.

Orange 5, Cleveland 2

Cleveland|000|002|0—2|5|2

Orange|200|012|x—5|8|2

Pitcher and Catcher. Cleveland—AnnaKate Gilchrist and Brooke Gillespie. Orange— Kristina Givens and Mia Davidson W—Kristina Givens. L—AnnaKate Gilchrist. Leading hitters—Cleveland: AnnaKate Gilchrist 1-3, RBI, R; Orange—Mia Davidson 2-3, 2B, R, BB; Kristina Givens 2-4.

Records—Cleveland 19-6, 8-2 Two Rivers. Orange 21-2, 11-1 Big Eight.

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