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Conley overcomes mistakes to top Enka

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D.H. Conley softball players celebrate after a homerun in the first inning during a game against Enka on April 30, 2016. (Joe Pellegrino/The Daily Reflector)

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By JORDAN ANDERS
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Saturday’s mistake-filled performance against Enka High School showed D.H. Conley softball coach Wayne Deans his team still has plenty to improve on before the playoffs start.

But the game’s final result showed his team is more than capable of overcoming adversity.

The Vikings spotted the visiting Sugar Jets a three-run lead with a pair of errors in the first inning, only to rally back and capture a 4-3 victory in a clash of defending state champions at East Carolina’s softball stadium.

It was the fourth win in a row for defending 4-A state champion Conley (20-2), which withstood committing four errors to hand last year’s 3-A champion Enka just its third loss all year.

“Defensively, we’re not where we need to be if we want to make a run in the playoffs, but we battled,” Deans said. “We still need to clean it up and make some improvements, but we could have very easily given up at any point today and we hung in there.”

Conley committed two throwing errors in Enka’s first three at-bats, the second of which allowed two runs to score. An RBI double to the left-center field wall gave the Sugar Jets (17-3) a 3-0 lead just four batters in, before the Vikings had even registered an out.

Once the Vikings got out of the inning, it only took three at-bats for the tide to change in the bottom of the frame. After a strikeout and a walk, catcher Makenna Batts stepped up and launched the first pitch she saw over the wall in left center for a two-run home run that instantly changed the game’s complexion and swung momentum back to Conley’s side.

“That really set the tone and put a message in our brain that we can do this,” Deans said. “It changed the mindset to let us know that we could hit this pitcher if we could just get up there and be disciplined at the plate, and I think we did.”

DHC tied the game in the third on a ball hit to left field by Grace Cochran that was bobbled by Enka’s left fielder. The Vikings took the lead in the fourth on an RBI groundout by Alexis Phillips and never relinquished it.

Cara Davis went 3-for-4 for the Vikings. Pitcher Emily Kirby struck out five and allowed six hits, but Conley never allowed another run after the rough first inning.

“Early in the season, if we had done that — and we did do it at C.B. Aycock — we would’ve fallen apart,” Deans said. “It wasn’t that long ago that we did this and completely fell apart as a group. We were shaky, and that first inning, we could have very easily fallen on our faces, but I think the difference-maker was when we had a chance to make plays, we made them.”

 

Contact Jordan Anders at janders@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 or follow @ReflectorJordan on Twitter.

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