Queen’s Grant baseball already breaks school record for wins
The Queen’s Grant baseball team has won eight consecutive games and now has an 11-1 record on the season. In only their third year of existence, the Stallions are having their best season ever and don’t seem to be slowing down.
On the mound, David McGoldrick, who has a 0.67 ERA in 21 innings and is 3-0 on the year with 25 strikeouts and a no-hitter, leads the Stallions. Sophomore Anthony Campolo is 3-0, and senior Gabe Hutchins has a 1.24 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 11 innings.
Even with the change to BBCOR bats, which are designed to be much more like wooden bats than the previously used BESR aluminum bats, the Stallions have crushed nine home runs as a team and have seven players hitting .300 or higher.
“It’s great to already be at our record for wins in a season,” Stallions coach Dan Kerr said. “But that wasn’t our goal when we set out on this mission. The guys set the bar much higher for themselves, and that helps keep them focused throughout the early part of this year. This team can be as good as any team they take the field with. There is no ceiling for some of them.”
The seniors who have been with the program since the beginning have been outstanding at the plate and are led by McGoldrick (.484 average, two home runs and 18 RBIs), J.P. Ketcham (.500, one homer, 16 RBIs), Austin Kegarise (.455, three homers, 18 RBIs), Steven Booksh (.500, 19 RBIs) and Hutchings (.242, two home runs and nine RBIs).
Along with the seniors, freshman Joe McGoldrick will help anchor the program for years to come. He is batting .481 and has seven RBIs and six stolen bases. He also has played six positions on the field.
Kerr said that he is ecstatic about the Stallions’ start but knows they have to keep working hard if they are to continue their early-season success.
“The key to this year’s success isn’t pitching, defense or hitting the ball,” Kerr said. “It will be staying grounded and focused on our goals. The guys play great baseball when they come into a game with intensity and focus on winning. However, we can’t get too high on our success. I want them to go into every game as if we’re 0-0 and this is a championship game.”
On March 27, the Stallions showed the resolve Kerr has been seeking, as they defeated Lincoln Charter, 10-9. Queen’s Grant was down five runs with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning but came back to tie the score, as Booksh and David McGoldrick came through with key hits. Joe McGoldrick scored the winning run an inning later. Hutchins pitched five innings in relief and struck out 10 batters.
“(The Lincoln Charter) win (was) the gutsiest performance I’ve ever been a part of as a coach,” Kerr said.
Area athletes wear Queen City Relays crowns
For more than five decades, the Queen City Relays has become known as a track meet for which many local high school athletes spend their entire careers aspiring and training to earn gold medals.
Last weekend, some Matthews-Mint Hill athletes accomplished their goals.
On March 24, Butler athletes Gavin Walter and Peter Kalambayi, and Rocky River’s Johnny Nunn topped strong fields in their respective events, en route to winning individual titles at the 56th Queen City Relays at Myers Park High School.
Walter, a senior, was dominant in the boys 300-meter hurdles, registering a winning time of 38.68 seconds, which was a full second ahead of the runner-up.
Kalambayi, a junior who also is a highly recruited football player, won the boys shot put with a distance of 49 feet, 7.5 inches.
Nunn won the boys triple jump by soaring 42-9, which was six inches better than his teammate, DeAndre Still, who took home second-place honors. Butler junior Channing Stribling (42-2) was third in the event.
Rocky River also took home a gold medal in the boys 4×400 relay with a time of 3 minutes, 25.66 seconds. The Butler quartet of Walter, Josh Wembolua, Uriah LeMay and Cameron Bailey was second in 3:29.15.
Independence softball showing resolve
The Independence softball team came into its own last season and this year has had to solidify the program’s return to prominence. So far, the Patriots have done so, having jumped out to a 7-2 record with big wins over Southwestern 4A conference foes Ardrey Kell and South Mecklenburg, and a victory over a strong Cornelius Hough High team that competes in the I-MECK 4A conference.
“Overall, I have been very impressed with the high level of talent and depth that this team has,” said first-year coach Ken Orsillo. “Knowing that the other conference teams know we have had a very solid start makes us work harder.”
The Patriots have four hitters with batting averages around .500 who lead them on offense: seniors Erin Standley, Katie Pearsall and Meghan Fowler and junior Morgan Benson.
Orsillo has also been pleased with the overall team fielding. He knew Pearsall was a good fielder, but sophomore first baseman Lauren Raker has stood out, as has sophomore Erin Evans and freshman Lizzie Birch.
“Fielding has been getting smoother every practice and each game,” Orsillo said. “(And) our pitchers, Standley (ERA 1.87) and (closer) Morgan Benson, both are very confident and savvy on the mound.”
Although the team has been successful, Orsillo knows there is room for it to grow, but he is pleased by the grit the Patriots have shown. In the Ardrey Kell win on March 13, for example, the Patriots took a six-run lead early. The Knights came back and pulled within a run, but Independence held on for the 6-5 victory.
“The attitude of each player learning to gel as a ‘team of one’ is the key to the success of this team,” Orsillo said. “We have 15 players from many different softball backgrounds, and we are still learning how to get on the same page to play together. The skill level is apparent, but the cohesion still has some room for improvement.”
Butler golf eying regional tournament
The Butler boys golf team has started the season with a 2-2 record, but the Bulldogs’ losses were to Myers Park and Ardrey Kell, a pair of teams that finished second and third, respectively, in last year’s Class 4A state tournament.
The Bulldogs have two remaining matches – April 9 against South Mecklenburg and April 16 at Independence – that coach Steve Shaughnessy thinks could go either way.
The Bulldogs will need consistent performances in those matches and are looking for a good showing in the Southwestern 4A conference tournament on April 30 and the 4A Western Regional championships at Pine Lake on May 7. The top three finishers at the regional championships qualify for the 4A state tournament on May 14.
Senior Trey Norton, a four-year player who fired a season-low 37 over nine holes against Ardrey Kell, and junior Blake Estridge, who averages around 40, are the Bulldogs’ low scorers.
Estridge and Norton have been consistent all season, but Shaughnessy said they will need a good performance from seniors Alec Viscount, Chase Britt and freshman Brycen Moser, who are all more than capable of putting low scores together.
Queen’s Grant soccer seeking win
Last season, the Queen’s Grant girls soccer team won just one game but were breaking many new players into the sport. This year, the returning players are picking up where they left off, and the Stallions, despite their 0-2-1 record, are a much better and deeper team.
Two returning players – sophomore defender Natalie Schopen and senior Olivia Pope – have both stood out to Stallions coach Meghan Naile. Junior goalkeeper Robyn Cummins has been solid in net, and the offense is led by sophomore MarneyRey Ketcham, freshman Kelsey Delaney and senior Alexa Musacchio.
“Many of our players are new to the sport, so we still have some work to do with marking up and spreading out on offense,” Naile said. “They are showing great improvement already, however, and I am optimistic we will continue to improve game to game.”