By Marty Simpkins
WAKE FOREST — Heritage’s softball team scored five unanswered runs to beat Rolesville 5-1 at home Tuesday.
With the win, the Huskies stay undefeated at 5-0. They beat Rolesville 2-0 in the season opener Feb. 28 to get the season sweep over the Rams.
Rolesville scored the first run in the top of the second inning off a double from Makayla Thomas and Abby Taylor ran in for the score.
Heritage didn’t score their first run until the bottom of the fourth inning. Raygan Rensing kicked things off with a double. On the next at-bat, Grace Valchar hit a single to bring Rensing home to tie the game.
Ashley Ferguson hit a single on the next at-bat to bring home Valchar. Heritage had a 2-1 lead going into the fifth inning.
Neither team scored in the fifth, but in the bottom of the sixth, Valchar hit a double and Ashley Gontram and Lindsey Dorn scored to give Heritage a 4-1 advantage.
“It was a team effort,” Valchar said. “We’ve faced Rolesville many times and we’ve really battled with them constantly. We found our groove and talked each other up. We stayed positive in the dugout and that pushed us over the threshold that we had.”
Afterwards, Ferguson hit a double that brought Chloe Plesset home, which was the final score of the game. Ferguson said her knowledge of her friends on the Rolesville team helped her figure out what she needed to do to hit the ball better.
“I’ve known the Rolesville players since I was in fourth grade,” Ferguson said. “I knew I had to believe in myself to get the hits going.”
After a slow start, Heritage finished the game with eight hits, including two doubles. Heritage head coach Mark Downing said his players modified their approach at the plate throughout the game, which led to the late scoring.
“We talk all the time that hitting is all about adjusting,” Downing said. “You start off slow, then you make adjustments to finish. If you start good, then you don’t change a thing. Rolesville’s Summer Howerton is a good pitcher. She had us there for a while.”
Valchar and Ferguson were the only Heritage players who had two hits. The pair of juniors also had a double each. Valchar led the Huskies with three RBIs and Ferguson had two.
“We’re talking to each other and being supportive for our team,” Ferguson said. “This team has so much chemistry. We all get along and talking is major.”
“We love each other and keep supporting each other,” Valchar said. “We don’t want to hang our heads. We just have to keep being supportive.”
On defense, Imani Rochelle took the mound for Heritage. The junior pitched a shutout in the season opener against Rolesville. This time, the Rams got eight hits and scored a run, but Rochelle kept her cool in the final innings to help secure the win.
“Rolesville got more hits in this game than the last game,” Rochelle said. “I moved the ball a lot better. Our defense was a little sloppy with some blunders. As a team, we conquered.”
Both Heritage and Rolesville had eight runs and one error each. The difference was that the Huskies made plays on defense with Rams in scoring positions.
“We were a little sloppy at times on defense,” Downing said. “We had good pitching from Imani and our defense finally came through. When you don’t score runs, you start to get nervous. The run production was huge.”
Rolesville has only lost two games this year and both of them are to Heritage. Head coach Frank Brantley said his girls couldn’t keep up with their opponent’s hitting.
“Heritage is a good hitting ball club,” Brantley said. “If you’re going to compete with them, you better hit with them as well. Heritage worked hard and they’re a great team. We made some throwing errors at the end that allowed some runs.”
Rolesville has scored at least five runs or more in their three wins. Against Heritage, they couldn’t bring runners home. Brantley said Heritage’s offense put more tension on Rolesville’s hitters.
“The girls put so much pressure on themselves at the plate,” Brantley said. “We had a lot of infield foul balls that we don’t typically see from our team. We weren’t hitting the ball where it was pitched.”
Heritage is heading into Cap 8 conference play with an undefeated 5-0 record. The Huskies have averaged seven runs scored and only an average of two runs scored against them. They will play at Leesville Road Friday at 4 p.m.
“We’re just going to keep the foot down on our conference opponents starting Friday,” Downing said. “We just have to keep practicing well. The chemistry is good right now, so the girls have to work hard to keep it that way.”
Rolesville will start conference play when they face West Johnston at home Tuesday at 4 p.m.