Chapel Hill dominated visiting Stephenson, sweeping a Class 5A, first round playoff tourney series Wednesday evening. The Lady Panthers, currently ranked third in the state in the classification by MaxPreps, won both games by mercy rule, taking the first game, 12-0, in four innings, and the second game, 14-0, in five innings.
“I thought we did everything we needed to do,” said CHHS coach Mick Harper. “We had better athletes on paper and we executed, played defense, threw strikes, and make them have to make plays. That was the plan going in.”
Darby Demarest started in the circle in game one and struck out the first two Jaguar batters. After a single to left by Nailah Manning, Sydney Saxton grounded out to short for the third out.
Chapel Hill jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Shelby Robinson lead off with a swinging bunt down the first base line for a single. Savana Sikes hit a bloop shot down the right field line that went for a double, scoring Robinson, who had stolen second and advanced to third on a bad throw by the catcher. Ashley Morgan hit a rope into the left-center field gap, scoring Sikes. Hallie Rutledge walked and Bella Caricari was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs. Malynn Haven singled on a flair to left, allowing Morgan to Cross the plate.
Stephenson pitcher, Damyera Herbert, struck out the next two Lady Panther batters. With two outs, Kayla Alexander swung the bat, and hit a ball only a few feet from home plate. The Lady Jag third baseman could not make the play at home, and Rutledge scored. Wrapping back around to the top of the order, Robinson walked, allowing courtesy runner Nina Jones to cross the plate for the fifth run.
After allowing a walk and a sacrifice bunt, Demarest struck out the final two Stephenson batters in the top of the second inning. The Lady Panthers added a run in the bottom of the second when Morgan singled down the left field line and scored on a line drive double into the left-center gap by Rutledge. Chapel Hill would load the bases with two outs, but Alexander grounded out to the shortstop to end the inning.
Stephenson tried to punch a run in, in the top of the third. With one out, Shayla Smith beat out an infield single and stole second. With two outs, Saxton beat out an infield single to the shortstop. Smith tried to score on a throw to third but was gunned out at home by Anna Aulgur. Caricari applied the tag.
Chapel Hill used the deep ball to put runs on the board in the bottom of the third. Robinson reached base on an error to lead things off. She reached third on the play and Sikes beat out an infield single to short, and stole second. Morgan singled to center, scoring both runners.
After a Rutledge single to center, Caricari sent a pitch over the left field fence for a 3-run home run. Haven followed with a shot to dead center for the sixth run of the inning and 12th of the game.
Demarest closed the door in the top of the fourth, forcing a fly-out in foul territory, and striking out two.
The second game was more of the same for the Lady Panthers. Chapel Hill pushed a run across the plate in the first inning, six in the second inning, three in the third, and four in the fifth. Like Demarest, Morgan dominated from the circle. She allowed only one hit, and struck out nine.
Every Lady Panther played in the second game. Rutledge went 3-for-4 with a single, double, and two RBIs. Morgan was 2-for-4 with a single, double, and two RBIs. Quinn Mitchell went 2-for-4 with two singles. She scored twice and knocked in a run.
Chapel Hill extends their school record winning steak to 22 games. They are still undefeated at home.
The Lady Panthers are now 29-4 overall. Stephenson falls to 15-8. Chapel Hill will host the Sweet-16 round series of the 5A State Tournament next Wednesday and Thursday.