The spring sports season in Hillsborough will be remembered for Orange and Cedar Ridge battling for first place in the Big 8 softball standings. There was also Orange’s pursuit of East Chapel Hill for Big 8 baseball supremacy, Emma Talley running up impressive goal numbers for the Cedar Ridge women’s soccer team and the Orange men’s lacrosse team making several playoff trips to the coast of North Carolina. Here are the top 5 spring sports moments for each school.
5. Caroline Fowlkes ties school pole vault record at 3A State Track & Field Meet: Two Cedar Ridge freshmen qualified in the pole vault at the 3A State Track & Field Championships. Fowlkes, who moved to Hillsborough last summer from Alabama, tied the school record by clearing ten feet inside Irwin Belk Track at North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro. Fowlkes, whose mother and father also competed in the pole vault in college, won four meets in the pole vault during Cedar Ridge’s indoor track & field season last winter. Her teammate, Susan Smith, also qualified for the state championships, clearing the bar at eight feet.
4. Tori Dalehite hits walkoff single as Cedar Ridge softball beats Person: One night removed from beating crosstown rival Orange on March 26, the Red Wolves earned their biggest nonconference win of the regular season against Person in Hillsborough. It was also their wildest win of the year. In a game that included five lead changes, ten extra base hits and 37 hits overall, Person took an 11-10 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning. Red Wolves freshman Takia Nichols erased the deficit with a solo homer. After Taylor Ruhl singled and went to second following a groundout, Dalehite ended the game with a line drive to centerfield. Dalehite led Cedar Ridge with 41 RBI this season.
3. Emmy Talley scores a hat trick in a 5-0 win over Orange: Playing in the Big 8 Conference against the likes of 3A State Champions East Chapel Hill, sophomore Emmy Talley was put to the test every game. This season, she delivered 35 goals for a Cedar Ridge team that made the 3A State Playoffs for the second straight season. Against crosstown rival Orange on March 27, Talley scored three goals in the first half as the Red Wolves defeated the Lady Panthers 5-0 at Orange Soccer Field. Giselle Solis Morales assisted on all three of Talley’s goals. Talley finished with eight hat tricks this season, including another three goal game against Orange on April 17 in Red Wolves Stadium.
2. Phil Berger wins his 20th career game for Cedar Ridge baseball: 20 wins isn’t easy for a high school pitcher. Berger, who played four varsity seasons, finished with 26 career starts. After winning eight games each in his sophomore and junior seasons, Berger completed his 20th win on April 16 against Hillside. He threw 1-and-two-thirds innings, striking out three to become the first Cedar Ridge pitcher to reach 20 wins in school history. Berger’s 19th win came against Chapel Hill on March 19, a 3-2 Red Wolves win. Berger threw a four-hit shutout to beat the Tigers for the 2nd straight season. Berger completed his career with a win over Northern Durham for his 22nd career win.
1. Tionna Carter hits walkoff single in 3A State Playoffs: On May 7, Cedar Ridge faced West Johnston in the opening round of the 3A state softball playoffs. It turned out to be the longest recorded game in school history, stretching out to 11 innings. Tied 3-3, West Johnston had a chance to win it in the 9th inning when Sydney Holland tripled to left field. Cedar Ridge 3rd baseman Takia Nichols fielded consecutive groudouts to keep Holland at third and end the inning. The game remained even going into the 11th inning, where Nichols was intentionally walked. Senior Taylor Ruhl reached on a fielder’s choice. Carter, in her final plate appearance inside Cedar Ridge Softball Stadium, looped a single to centerfield to score Ruhl and end the marathon and advance. Three days later in the 2nd round, Cedar Ridge defeated West Carteret in Morehead City.
5. Orange men’s tennis defeats Northwood to reach 3A State Dual Playoffs: Playing tennis in the shadow of state powers East Chapel Hill and Chapel Hill isn’t easy in Hillsborough. This season, the Orange men’s tennis team reached the 3A state playoffs for the first time since 2016 behind a 14-5 season. On April 22, the Panthers defeated Northwood 5-4 in Hillsborough to complete the Big 8 regular season 8-4. In doubles, Bassem Elbitar and senior Daniel O’Shaughnessy earned the match-clinching win. Orange’s doubles team of Colin O’Hagerty & Ronan Towell qualified for the 3A Mideast Regionals, as did Josh Van Mater in singles.
4. Jarmil Wingate breaks the school record in the 200 meters: In a track & field meet against Cedar Ridge and Southern Durham on April 18, Wingate set a new Orange record with a time of 26.34 seconds in the 200 meters. In continue an impressive freshman campaign for Wingate, who won four meets in the 100 meters this season. Wingate, who was an occasional starter in basketball last winter, also won the 100 meters with a time of 12.94 seconds that same day, tying her personal best. Wingate started competing in track & field two years ago at Stanford Middle School.
3. Orange lacrosse defeats Northside-Jacksonville for 2nd-ever state playoff win: Four years after Orange defeated South Brunswick for its first lacrosse playoff win, the Panthers pulled off a victory over the Monarchs in Jacksonville. Junior Dylan Boyer scored four goals and two assists, while junior Wyatt Jones and sophomore Ryan Merrill each registered a hat trick. Orange outscored the Moncarchs 6-1 in the 2nd quarter, including the final three goals of the 1st half. Boyer scored a man advantage goal with 3:49 remaining in the first half, then assisted on a goal from sophomore Cy Honer to complete the first half.
2. Cooper Hench’s performance as Orange baseball defeats East Chapel Hill: At the time, no one knew that Orange’s 5-3 win at East Chapel Hill on March 12 would be the only time the Wildcats would lose a Big 8 Conference game all year. Junior Cooper Hench may have had the most impressive individual outing of any Orange player all year. Starting at 3rd base, Hench recorded nine assists. At the plate, he went 3-for-4 with an RBI single. In the sixth inning, Hench came on in relief and threw two perfect innings for his first career win. From there, East won 13 consecutive league games for its first conference championship since 2002.
1. Lauren Jackson’s game-winning hit against Northwood: The Orange softball team tied Cedar Ridge for the Big 8 Championship, the third time in four years the Lady Panthers have claimed a share of the conference crown. It would have never happened without Jackson’s heroics on April 3 against Northwood in Hillsborough, the most clutch performance by a Lady Panther this season. The Chargers led 6-4 going into the bottom of the sixth inning. In the sixth and seventh innings, Orange scored runs off two-out hits. Jackson drove in Maddie Bartlett with a line drive to centerfield. Senior Olivia Ruff led off the 7th with a single, but Orange was down to its final out when Emma Puckett slammed a 3-1 pitch to left field for a double to tie the game. In the eighth inning, Bartlett reach on an error and Jayden Hurdle walked. Jackson singled on a grounder to left field to bring in the game-winning run. Orange convincingly won its final eight conference games to tie for the championship and face Cedar Ridge in a one-game playoff for first place in the Big 8 on May 2.