BEAR CREEK — A pair of costly Chatham Charter infield errors in the bottom of the fifth opened the door for Chatham Central to snap a 1-1 stalemate with a four-run uprising while Raynee Redington …
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BEAR CREEK — A pair of costly Chatham Charter infield errors in the bottom of the fifth opened the door for Chatham Central to snap a 1-1 stalemate with a four-run uprising while Raynee Redington held the Lady Knights hitless over the final six innings as the regular-season Central Tar Heel 1A Conference champion Lady Bears captured the league’s tournament title as well with a 5-1 victory Thursday night on the winners’ field.
Improving to 8-0 all-time against its county rival, Chatham Central raised its overall record to 14-3, while Chatham Charter slipped to 11-6 for the year.
Redington allowed both of the Lady Knights’ hits and their lone run in the top of the first before limiting Chatham Charter to just one base runner the rest of the way to earn the win in a complete-game outing.
The junior right-hander issued one walk and fanned a dozen batters to match her season-high while throwing a total of 110 pitches, including 76 (69 percent) for strikes.
“I had a goal coming into this game to reach 100 strikeouts for the year and dug down deep to reach it,” said Redington, who finished the evening with a total of 108 whiffs so far this season. “My teammates did a great job backing me up by making no mistakes in the field whenever Chatham Charter put the ball in play.”
Lady Bears’ coach Jimmy Rodriguez related the two big keys to the victory were Redington’s effort on the mound and his team’s aggressiveness on the base paths.
“Raynee threw the ball hard and did a nice job hitting her spots,” he said, “while we took advantage of our speed when we loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth to break the game open.”
Lady Knights’ hurler Taylor Poe also went the distance on the hill and suffered the loss after giving up six hits while walking one and fanning two, with only two of the five runs she surrendered being earned. The freshman right-hander tossed a total of 86 pitches, including 48 (56 percent) for strikes.
“I thought Taylor pitched a good game but errors were the difference, and that’s been our story all year,” remarked Chatham Charter coach Jennifer Dameron. “With only one senior and one junior on the roster I feel like we’ve come a long way with such a young squad to put ourselves on the threshold of making a first-ever state playoff appearance in just our third year of existence.”
The Lady Knights jumped out to a 1-0 advantage their initial turn at the plate as Taylor Jones belted a one-out double to the left field fence and scored one out later on Sydney Bowman’s base hit to left.
Chatham Central answered with a run in its half of the first as Mary Grace Murchison and Bailey Barker slapped back-to-back one-out singles to left and Olivia Hudson reached on an infield error to load the bases before Maddy Elkins brought in Murchison with a sacrifice fly to center.
The teams then battled through three scoreless innings prior to the Lady Bears putting together their game-winning rally in the home fifth.
Lindsey Johnson led off the frame by reaching first when her routine grounder to the right side of the infield was bobbled and advanced to second on a wild pitch.
Johnson then held her position at second as Gracie Gaines blooped a base hit to center before Lindsay Polston’s potential double-play grounder up the middle was misplayed, filling the sacks.
After Johnson dashed home on a wild pitch to give Chatham Central the lead for good, Redington drew a free pass to reload the bases.
With all three people on base running on the next pitch, Murchison pushed a perfectly-executed bunt between first and second with the defense out of position, allowing her to reach first while Gaines, Polston and Redington all came in to score.
“We work on bunts all the time in practice, and Mary Grace had good control as to where to place the ball to catch Chatham Charter off-guard,” explained Rodriguez. “With all three base runners on the move they all had time to score before the defense was able to react.”
Redington then proceeded to retire the Lady Knights in order over the last two innings to seal the triumph.