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Knights peaking at right time

It was a good week for the North Lincoln Knights’ softball program by any standards.
On the surface, looking at a 2-1 week; there would be nothing spectacular about it. Delving deeper, you see the lone loss came to Kings Mountain, the No. 1 team in the state at the 3A level.
“We’re starting to get it together. Nicole (Baxter) is pitching better and our bats are coming around,” Lady Knights’ head coach Rick Brown said.
The Lady Knights got things started with a 12-2 pounding of Highland Tech on Tuesday. North Lincoln gave up two runs to the Lady Rams in the top of the first.
How did they respond to their early deficit? They scored seven runs in the bottom of the second and never looked back.
Freshman Kayla Alexander led North Lincoln with a 4-for-5 performance along with two RBIs. Senior Lindsey Smith went 3-for-4 courtesy of two singles and a double.
Nicole Baxter stroked a three-RBI stand-up double. Junior McKenzie Harkey went 2-for-2 with two walks and a RBI. Senior Nicole Hall went 2-for-4 with a RBI.
Hall also threw a three-hitter on the mound, striking out eight and walking one for the win.

Wednesday
Kings Mountain scored one run in the second, sixth and seventh innings in a 3-0 win over North Lincoln.
In the first inning, the Lady Knights left two runners stranded, as two were on with one out. After a Baxter double in the third, pinch-runner Amanda Snyder was left on without being able to score.
In the sixth inning, sophomore Courtney Feldon doubled but was left in scoring position.
Baxter, a junior, suffered the loss on the mound for North Lincoln, allowing five hits, two walks and striking out four.
Brown was pleased to see how well his team competed against the undefeated Mountaineers.
“Nicole pitched well. They threw two pitchers at us and both of them are better than anything we’re going to see in 1A,” he said.
“We got to their No. 2 pitcher. I don’t know if we would’ve beat her, but we would’ve scored off her before the game was over because we were hitting her,” Brown added.
Kings Mountain was not interested in seeing if Brown’s assumption was the case. They brought in Mo Childers, their ace, to work the final three innings.
Childers struck out seven and allowed only one hit.
Despite the loss, the Knights drew a positive from their play.
“It made the girls feel good that we were playing well enough that they had to shuffle things around to make sure they won the game,” Brown said.

Thursday
The Lady Knights earned their second Southern Foothills’ victory of the week, beating Bessemer City 14-1.
Baxter reached double-digits in strikeouts with 10, scattering four hits with two walks for the win.
Shortstop Amanda Leonard led the Knights going 2-for-3 with three RBIs. She also scored two runs. Baxter helped her own cause on the mound also going 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
Harkey scored four runs for North and one RBI. Feldon went 2-for-5, also scored three times and had one RBI. Jenna Torbert was 1-for-5 with three RBIs.
Other leading hitters were: Hall went 2-for-5 with a double and two RBIs, Alexander went 1-for-3 with one RBI and Donia McDonald was 1-for-5 and scored scored once.
The win made them 7-2 in the SF 1A and 12-4 overall on the season. The Lady Knights will next host Cherryville next Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. They lost their first meeting with the Lady Ironmen 3-2, so no doubt they will have revenge on their minds.
Brown won’t guarantee a victory against the Ironmen, but does feel his team is peaking at the right time.
“I think we’re playing better now and the pitching is better. If we play the way we’ve been playing the last week, we’ll give them a better game,” he said.

Senior Nicole Hall had two multi-hit games this week. She also tallied three RBIs in as many outings. Chris Dean / LTN Photo

by John Mark Brooks

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