Two Cedar Ridge throwing errors did more than help Northwood to a 2-0 softball victory Friday night in a crucial Big 8 Conference showdown.
The teams might otherwise have played a marathon late into the night the way pitching dominated the game.
The difference was Chargers senior Kayli Blankenship getting on base with a bunt and creating havoc with her speed on the base paths. The Guilford College-bound left fielder scored the first run after she led off with a bunt and advanced to third on a throwing error.
“We wanted to put the ball in play and make them throw us out,” Northwood Coach Butch Edenfield said. “Kayli creates havoc on all of the teams we play. She’s a great little ball player.”
Blankenship also blooped a bunt over the charging third baseman in the third inning and kept running for a head-first slide double.
Northwood’s win avenged a 1-0 loss to Cedar Ridge on Tuesday in a tight PAC-8 race. Cedar Ridge (12-2, 7-1 Big 8) and Orange were the last two Big Eight teams unbeaten in league play entering Friday’s competition. Northwood improved to 11-1 overall and 5-1 in league play.
On Blankenship’s leadoff bunt, she appeared to have the throw to first beat out when it sailed down the line and Blankenship kept running to third. Payton Springle was hit by a pitch and stole second. When No. 4 hitter Ally McKee bunted, Blankenship beat the throw home with her slide, but again the throw was errant. Springle tried to score on the throwing error, but was caught at the plate. McKee advanced to second and was replaced by pinch runner Taylor Brown. Brown stole third and came home on the errant throw to get her.
THREE TO KNOW
▪ Rivers Andrews, Cedar Ridge: The Red Wolves pitcher, who has six no-hitters this year, struck out 11 batters while allowing three hits. She is bound for UNC-Wilmington.
▪ Anna Jasper, Northwood: The Chargers pitcher also struck out 11 while allowing three hits. She allowed one runner to second base on the double by Rivers Andrews. Jasper is bound for UNC-Pembroke.
▪ McKenzie Allgood, Northwood: The Chargers’ second baseman was 1-of-3 and reached base with a walk and a single.
THEY SAID IT
“The top four teams in this conference on any given night could beat each other.” – Cedar Ridge Coach Jeff Gravitte.