FOREST CITY –– The dream season is over for West Lincoln’s softball team.
After entering the third round of the NCHSAA state 2A playoffs Tuesday night at East Rutherford with a team batting average near .400 and scoring almost 10 runs per game, the Rebels just couldn’t figure out East Rutherford sophomore pitcher Savannah Davis as they managed just seven hits in an 8-3 loss.
“We didn’t get much production through the entire order. Typically through the year we’ve had production through the lineup,” West Lincoln head coach Tyler Sain said. “(Davis) kept us off balance and we struggled all day. She kept us guessing.”
It looked as if it would be a typical West Lincoln game after freshman catcher Kylee Leonhardt blasted a two-run homer over the scoreboard in left field to give the Rebels a 2-0 lead in the first inning, but Davis shrugged it off and dominated the rest of the way.
While Davis motored through the Rebels lineup, West Lincoln pitcher Cassidy Wise struggled with her command, walking in two runs in the first inning to erase the early lead.
“Our dugout played a huge role today. I think they rattled their pitcher and that was big for us,” East Rutherford head coach Laura Hopper said.
And although she dominated the back half of the East Rutherford (23-2) lineup with six strikeouts in the first two innings, the top of the Cavaliers’ order went 4-for-5 with a walk in those innings as both Davis and Raven Gray scored two runs, giving East Rutherford a 4-2 edge.
“They hit the ball really well. The top of their order is tough,” Sain said.
The bottom three hitters of the East Rutherford order eventually caught up to Wise with three straight hits to start the fifth inning after going a combined 0-for-6 with three strikeouts to that point.
“The bottom of our lineup has come up consistently,” Hopper said. “Everyone in our lineup can put the ball in play when we need them.”
Wise was eventually pulled after Emily Dotson’s third hit and third RBI of the night put the Cavaliers up 8-3.
West Lincoln threatened in each of the final two innings, but Davis worked out of each jam with four of her eight strikeouts coming in the sixth and seventh frames.
Leonhardt led the Rebels with three hits and three RBIs as West Lincoln ended the season with a 23-4 record.
“(After the game) I told them that they’re the only team to win a conference championship in the whole school this year and to keep their heads up,” Sain said. “They have nothing to be ashamed of. I love these girls to death and I couldn’t ask for a better group … I’m real proud of them.”
Travis Durkee is the sports editor at The Daily Courier in Forest City.