The Big 8 Conference Baseball Player of the Year, Orange junior Joey Berini hit .541 this season, a .172 point increase from last season. Berini led the Panthers in hits, runs, doubles and triples. He also tied for the team lead in home runs with three.
Berini has been the starting shortstop for Orange since his freshman year, when he hit .274 for a team that reached the third round of the 3A NCHSAA state playoffs.
In 20 games this spring, Berini committed only four errors. He closed the regular season with an eight-game hitting streak as Orange finished 14-6, falling to J.H. Rose in the opening round of the 3A state playoffs. Orange’s .700 winning percentage was its best since 2016, when they finished 21-7 and reached the state quarterfinals.
On March 12 in Orange’s 5-3 win over East Chapel Hill, Berini went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. He started the season on a six-game hitting streak. On March 20 against Ragsdale, Berini nearly hit for the cycle. He went 3-for-4 with a 2 RBIs, including a double and a triple in an 18-1 Orange victory.
On April 25, Orange sewed up a playoff spot by beating Chapel Hill 10-1, its first win at CHHS since 2015. Against the Tigers, Berini went 3-for-4 with an RBI triple. A week later, Berini homered in a 15-4 win over Northwood, which guaranteed 2nd place in the Big 8 Conference for the Panthers.
Berini is currently being recruited by Davidson, North Carolina Central, Western Carolina and UNC Asheville.
In a spring filled with softball freshmen emerging quickly across Hillsborough, Lauren Jackson has an immediate impact for the Lady Panthers.
Jackson led Orange with a .439 batting average with five home runs. Playing catcher in all 21 of Orange’s games, Jackson had a ten-game hitting streak during the heart of the season. She saved her best in victories over Cedar Ridge and Northwood, which led the Lady Panthers to tie the Red Wolves for the Big 8 Championship.
Against Cedar Ridge on March 28, Jackson went 2-for-3 with a double. Her most clutch performance came on April 3 against Northwood, where the Lady Panthers trailed 5-3 going into the bottom of the sixth inning. Down to its final out in the 7th inning, Jackson had the walkoff single in the eighth inning to score Maddie Bartlett. Jackson finished 4-for-4 3 RBIs. The following Monday against Northwood in Pittsboro, Jackson went 2-for-2 as Orange cruised to a 14-1 win.
In her first state playoff game, Jackson launched a two-run homer to dead center as Orange defeated Jacksonville 4-1 in Hillsborough.
In her first Big 8 Conference game against East Chapel Hill, Jackson hit a home run. She finished 3-for-4 with 3 RBIs and a double as Orange rolled 12-0.
Jackson’s presence brought stability behind the plate for Orange for the first time since the graduation of Mia Davidson in 2017.
The Lady Panthers finished 14-7 under head coach Henry Horn. Next season, Jackson and freshman pitcher Gracie Walker will return aiming to put Orange back in the top spot of the Big 8.