Peelen, Lady Cavaliers top KFHS

Published 10:37 pm Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Lakeland High School sophomore Katie Peelen pitches Monday against visiting King’s Fork High School. She starred defensively and offensively in a 4-3 Lady Cavs win. (Melissa Glover photo)

Lakeland High School sophomore Katie Peelen pitches Monday against visiting King’s Fork High School. She starred defensively and offensively in a 4-3 Lady Cavs win. (Melissa Glover photo)

Led by a remarkable performance by sophomore Katie Peelen, the Lakeland High School softball team defeated visiting King’s Fork High School, which went without junior Sydney Wash on the mound.

Wash was out with a minor back injury, and while Lady Cavaliers head coach Cara Byrd told her players to take advantage of the opportunity, she said the emphasis with her team was not on its cross-city opponent in the 4-3 win.

“We focused more on our own individual team goals,” she said. “We didn’t really stress the fact that we were playing King’s Fork or worry about whether Sydney was pitching or not.”

Newsletter

Email newsletter signup

With regard to the Lady Cavs meeting their own goals, “We knew if we could and we did, that the outcome would be positive,” Byrd said.

She outlined what these objectives were.

“One was just to bring the confidence that we’ve built over the past two games, to just keep building on that,” she said.

The other was more specific about what to do while at bat.

“Our biggest success factor was we were patient at the plate,” Byrd said, noting her players took walks when they were given and did not chase bad pitches.

The Lady Bulldogs took a 3-0 lead going into the bottom of the fourth inning, but then Lakeland added a single run for each of the final four innings to win. It ended up with nine hits and only one defensive error for the game.

Proving clutch on offense was Peelen, who was also a key difference-maker on the mound, limiting King’s Fork to five hits while striking out three.

“Katie rocked,” Byrd said. “She was the major contributing factor to this win. She was pitching awesome,” working both the outside and the inside of the plate successfully. “She didn’t give them anything to hit at all.”

King’s Fork produced seven pop-flys, all of which turned into put-outs for Lakeland.

Then, on offense, with the contest tied 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Peelen recorded her second hit of the night to score senior Sarah Bowyer and end the ballgame.

Peelen and Bowyer finished 2-for-4 at the plate, and sophomore Stasha Waterfield went 1-for-3 with a run batted in.

Byrd also noted her team left nine runners on base, meaning the game could potentially have ended with more of a comfortable lead for the Lady Cavs.

This was little comfort to Lady Bulldogs head coach Richard Froemel. He was disappointed in his team’s third game of the season after the way it had been hitting the ball and playing in the field during the first two games, both of which ended in KF victory.

While the absence of Wash was significant, he said, “We’ve still got to score runs.”

Sophomore Kay’Lee Justice filled in for Wash as pitcher.

“She performed well enough on the mound for us to win,” Froemel said. “You can’t go out and commit five errors and only hit six hits and win a ballgame.”

Justice pitched for six and two-third innings, walking two and allowing 10 hits.

He said his team had been playing solid defense on Monday as it went up 3-0 but was out of sync on offense.

“I don’t want to take anything from their pitcher, because she shut us down, but I think our timing had a lot to do with that,” he said.

He said while Peelen was not a pitcher whose throws would blow by batters, “She places her ball well.”

Freshman Lauryn Bailey was the only Lady Bulldog to garner multiple hits. She batted in all three runs for King’s Fork, finishing 2-for-3.

On Tuesday, Froemel said there was no damage to the muscle in Wash’s back, but it is “just a day-by-day thing, and we’ll give her some time off today and see what tomorrow brings.”

This evening, King’s Fork (2-1, 0-1) hosts Nansemond River High School, and Lakeland (3-2, 1-1) hosts Hickory High School.