High School Sports

Northwood softball downs East Chapel Hill

The immaculately groomed “Northwood High School Softball Complex” greets visiting fans and players for the Chargers’ home games.

But the green grass and smooth infield – especially for early March – are about more than aesthetics. Northwood’s lineup is built with a mix of speed and power that also rattles opponents into errors and unearned runs.

That was the formula that worked for Northwood in a 13-4 win over East Chapel in nonconference matchup Wednesday night.

Northwood leadoff batter Kayli Blankenship was on base four times and scored four runs. The speedy senior left-fielder committed to Guilford College was 2 of 3. She scored in the first inning after a walk, the second after a ground-ball error into right field, in the fourth after a bunt single and in the fifth after another bunt single.

“Speed is a big aspect of our game,” Blankenship said. “It really helps when the top couple batters get on base and we have the big hitters to bring us around and score us. We have all the aspects to be a good team this year. We have speed, good hitting and good pitching.”

Blankenship stole three bases, including second and third when she scored the fourth.

“I pretty much have the green light to run, unless we face a really good catcher,” Blankenship said.

Turning point

Northwood led off the second inning with three straight singles but scored only one run for a 2-0 lead. The floodgates to the five-run second inning opened when Blankenship stroked a grounder to the right side for an error into the outfield with bases loaded.

The fielding error allowed Allison Grant to score, but then Taylor Brown and Julia Stone came home on throwing errors.

Blankenship advanced to third on the errors and scored for a 6-0 lead on a fielder’s choice to the pitcher. Blankenship had such a quick jump off third, pitcher Geena Kennihan was forced to first base for the sure out.

Three to know

Violet Kehoe, East Chapel Hill: The freshman outfielder, batting second, was 2 of 3 with a double off the left-center field fence for an RBI in the Wildcats’ four-run fourth inning. She also showed power on a deep fly-ball out to left field.

Anna Jasper, Northwood: The senior pitcher tossed five innings of relief work to pick up the victory. She also led off the fifth inning with a double and scored.

Ally McKee, Northwood: The junior catcher picked off two base runners at third base and contributed one RBI on a sacrifice fly ball. One runner was caught off third base and didn’t get back to the bag ahead of the throw to third baseman McKenzie Allgood. The other runner was caught trying to steal third.

They said it

“We’re young and we didn’t have a big turnout. We lost one to an injury and another to changing sports. We’ve only got two players playing the same position they played last year. We’re learning, but we’re making mistakes. But they’re learning pretty fast and we’ll get better as we progress,” East Chapel Hill coach Joe Simmons said.