Lady Bears reach state quarters
Chatham Central kept on rolling through the NCHSAA 1A state softball tournament Friday night and the Lady Bears are doing it without their best lineup on the field.
The Lady Bears (25-0) blanked Yadkin Valley Conference mate Gray Stone Day 8-0 to reach the state quarterfinals. Kelsey Hayes pitched the Lady Bears to their sixth straight shutout as Hayes was helped out by an errorless defense. In the middle of the Bear batting order, Cayley Oldham and Jessica Cockman combined for five hits and five RBI.
On Tuesday in the elite eight, head coach Mike Langone expects to have Erin Sugg, his four-year starting catcher, back behind the plate, which will mean Antonia Nelson moving from catcher to shortstop and a couple other switches for Chatham Central.
Thanks to the Lady Bear talent and depth different players in different spots, such as Nelson at catcher and Katelyn Moody at shortstop, hasn't hurt Chatham Central one bit.
"I have a good problem right now," Langone said, "everyone on this team's done the job when we've called on them. This team isn't one girl, it's all 15 of them."
Just because Sugg wasn't on the field, due to a concussion, she was completely in the game. With her experience behind the plate and teaming with Hayes, Sugg called pitches to Nelson and was another coach all the way around for the Lady Bears.
"That's leadership. Some players, if they're injured, they might just sit back on the bench, but Erin still wants to contribute and help the team. Erin and the other six seniors understand the significance of what we're doing now," Langone said.
Hayes and Gray Stone starting pitcher Katie Kepley traded zeroes for two innings. Hayes kept cruising through the Lady Knight third and Kepley was an out away from keeping it 0-0 through three.
Lady Bear leadoff hitter Kayla Williamson singled to keep the inning alive. An error, a dropped liner by the Lady Knight shortstop, then a borderline hit/error, on a soft fly into short center, led to a 1-0 Lady Bear lead.
Cockman hit a flare inside the left field line for a single and a run. Hayes followed with a sharp shot into center making it 3-0 CC when the inning should've ended with no such rally.
The Lady Bear bats didn't need help the rest of the evening. In the fourth, Evan Moody's double, a blast off the fence in left field, then a triple by Hanna Batten to the right field corner, stoked another three-run inning.
With one on and two down un the CC sixth, Cockman hit her second homer in two games and third of the season, hitting a drive to the left of the 210-foot sign in center.
Hayes held the Lady Knights to five hits and no walks. Getting runners on second and third with one out in the sixth was as much a threat as Gray Stone put together.
The Lady Knights (12-12) were a wild card seed from the YVC. This was the third match-up of the season between CC and Gray Stone.
"It's tough," Langone said of playing a familiar foe for the third time, "we know each other really well and this is their (Gray Stone's) best season they've ever had as far reaching the third round."
Oldham went 3-for-4 with three singles, getting two runs and two RBI. Cockman went 2-for-4 with three RBI. Williamson scored twice. Batten went 2-for-3 with a triple, a run and a RBI.
For the first time in the tournament, Chatham Central will have to hit the road for the quarters.
Southern Piedmont Conference champion Bessemer City (15-12) beat North Stokes (24-3) 3-2 Friday night and will host the Lady Bears on Tuesday.