This week’s Orange Panther of the Week is freshman catcher Lauren Jackson.
On Wednesday, Jackson went 4-for-4 with 3 RBIs as the Lady Panthers rallied to defeat Northwood 6-5 in eight innings. Jackson had the game-winning hit in the eighth inning to score Maddie Bartlett. Orange went into the bottom of the sixth inning trailing 5-3, but Jackson helped the Lady Panthers tie the game with an RBI single to centerfield.
This season, Jackson leads Orange with a .423 batting average through nine games. She is tied for the team lead with eleven hits. She has nine RBIs, second on the team behind junior Jaden Hurdle.
Jackson has brought stability behind the plate to the Lady Panthers for the first time since Mia Davidson graduated in 2017. She has been the catcher for freshman pitcher Gracie Walker, who has made eight appearances in the circle this season.
In her first Big 8 Conference game of the year at East Chapel Hill on March 12, Jackson hit her first varsity home run as Orange rolled past the Wildcats 10-0. Jackson went 3-for-4 against the Wildcats.
On March 28 against Cedar Ridge, Jackson went 2-for-3 with a double as the Lady Panthers upset the Red Wolves 6-4 at Orange Softball Park. The victory created a tie for first place in the Big 8 between the two Hillsborough rivals.
Jackson has a .583 on base percentage. After winning the state championship in 2017, the Lady Panthers were eliminated in the opening round of the 3A state playoffs at Topsail last season. If Orange finishes in the top two of the Big 8 Conference this year, they will gain an automatic spot in the state playoffs.