The Chatham Charter baseball team’s season came to an end in heart-breaking fashion last Tuesday in the third round of the 1A state playoffs.
In a tight affair with East Wake Academy, the Knights battled back from a one-run deficit late to force extra innings, but the Eagles eventually came out on top, 5-4, after nine frames. While the result wasn’t what head coach Bill Slaughter or his team wanted, there’s undoubted excitement about the future of the program.
Chatham Charter trailed by one run, 2-1, after four innings, but the Knights captured the lead in the fifth thanks to a sacrifice fly by freshman Jace Young and a passed ball that plated fellow freshman Westin Phillips. Charter held the lead until the seventh, when East Wake Academy took it back with an RBI groundout and a one-run single. Trailing, 5-4, heading into the final half-inning, the Knights rallied to plate the tying run on an RBI triple by freshman Garrison Clark.
After a scoreless eighth inning, East Wake Academy scored what ended up being the winning run on an RBI double by junior Owen Schmidt. Charter got its first batter on base in the bottom of the frame, but a fielder’s choice and two strikeouts ultimately ended the Knights’ season.
Chatham Charter finishes the 2023 season with an overall record of 17-2 — the team’s most wins in a season since totaling 18 back in 2018. The Knights were dominant at the plate, where they hit .419 as a team. The most impactful batters for Charter this season were sophomore Zach Cartrette (.460, 29 hits, 21 RBI), junior Aidan Allred (.466, 27 hits, 29 RBI), junior Jonah Ridgill (.473, 26 hits, 10 RBI), senior Cameron Turner (.458, 22 hits, 18 RBI) and sophomore Luke Johnson (.370, 20 hits, 19 RBI).
On the mound, Cartrette was the team’s ace, amassing a 7-0 record, a 1.64 ERA and 64 strikeouts over 47 innings. Sophomore Luke Johnson and junior Aidan Allred combined for a 2.06 ERA and 64 strikeouts over 48 innings.
This offseason, Chatham Charter will graduate just one senior — Turner — and are expected to return the rest of the roster. The Knights should be among the teams to beat at the 1A level when they return to the field next spring.
Bears fall in softball playoffs
The Chatham Central softball team hoped the third round of the 1A state tournament would mark its second straight road playoff win over a higher-seeded team, but the Bears weren’t able to overcome Pamlico County last Tuesday, ultimately losing 3-0.
Just one Central player totaled multiple hits in the loss — junior Katherine Gaines, who was 2-for-3. Junior Shelby Holder and sophomore Emma Burke also totaled a hit apiece, but the four total hits were the lowest for the Bears in any game this season.
Chatham Central finishes the 2023 spring season with an 18-3 overall record, its seventh straight year with at least 10 wins under head coach Drew Hackney. The 18 wins this season were the most the Bears had totaled since racking up 19 back in 2018.
Five Chatham Central players finished the spring with at least 20 hits — senior Jaylee Williams (.561, 37 hits, 23 RBI), Gaines (.448, 30 hits, 10 RBI), junior Cassie McKeithan (.460, 29 hits, 34 RBI), Burke (.444, 24 hits, 23 RBI) and sophomore Caleigh Warf (.344, 22 hits, 24 RBI). Williams closes her career as one of the most highly successful players in program history, and she’ll start the next stage of her career at Appalachian State next year.
In the circle, senior Mary Gaines won 16 games and totaled a 1.02 ERA and 87 strikeouts over 82 innings pitched.
Gaines and Williams are Central’s only two seniors, though their losses undoubtedly be felt when the Bears take the field next spring. Still, if recent history is any indication, Chatham Central should still be able to compete at a high level next year.
Sports Editor Jeremy Vernon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @jbo_vernon.