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Softball: Williams hits for cycle, Harris drives in 8 as Denmark sweeps Central
Denmark sophomore Jordan Williams crosses home plate Tuesday during Game 2 of a doubleheader against Forsyth Central. - photo by David Roberts

The first cycle in the history of Denmark High School softball belongs to Jordan Williams.

She already had a single, double and triple in her first three at-bats Tuesday in Game 2 of a doubleheader against Forsyth Central. So, when she came to the plate in the top of the sixth inning, all she needed was a home run.

Instead, Williams had to settle for another double, an opposite-field line drive that scored Caitlin McGinn.

It was late in the game, but with the way the Danes were swinging the bat, Williams knew she would get one more chance at the cycle.

Sure enough, after the first two batters of the seventh inning reached base and Ava Reformado brought them home with a home run, the lineup turned over and Williams had her chance.

Facing a 3-1 count, Williams sent an outside pitch from Mallory Smith over the fence in left-center to make it 12-1 and secure the first cycle in program history.

"I was just trying to put that bat on the ball, because I was early on my other at-bat," Williams said. "So, I was just trying to hit it [opposite field]."

Denmark beat Central 12-1 to complete the doubleheader sweep. The Danes also won 9-2 in Game 1.

In all, Denmark combined to slug 33 hits in the two games.

Williams went 7-for-10 with five runs and two RBIs, while Sara Harris collected six hits and knocked in eight runs to power a potent Denmark offense.

"We know that's our strength, which is nice. Our pitchers know that's our strength, which is nice," Denmark head coach Savannah Huffstetler said. "Our pitchers are kind of told, 'Hold them until we get rolling.' We feel like once we get rolling, it kind of opens up and it just explodes. That's definitely our strength, and we know it's our strength, but we're frustrated because we start every game I feel like with three scoreless innings, then we blow up. They're too good to not start off just punching them in the mouth."

Game 2 had the look of a pitcher's duel after Kendall Maynard's RBI groundout in the first inning granted Central a 1-0 lead and accounted for the only scoring through the first three frames. 

Starting pitcher Ester Knight scattered three hits through the first three innings — including two from Williams — and was backed by a solid Central defense. Shortstop Taylor Jackson made an unassisted double play to end the first inning, then Emma Pirkle had an impressive running catch in center field to start the second inning.

But Jessie DeNardo led off the fourth inning with a double and scored on Sara Harris' RBI single, then Avery Callaway's RBI groundout scored Harris and handed Denmark a lead they never relinquished.

The Danes scored at least two runs in each of the final four innings.

Harris, Denmark's freshman third baseman, drove in DeNardo again in the fifth inning and finished with a career-high eight RBIs.

"Our infield is lockdown. We don't have a weak spot in my opinion," Huffstetler said. "I knew we had [Avery] Callaway at second, I knew we obviously had Jessie [DeNardo], and I knew first would be fine — whoever is not pitching — but I didn't know who was going to play third. I'd probably call it the most important spot in softball, if not short. To have that freshman come out and go, 'OK, we've got third.' That was pretty nice. She's a stud."

Every single Denmark starter had a hit in Game 2, including a three-run bomb by Reformado out of the nine spot.

"Our top of the lineup is really good, so I feel like we're going to win a lot of games this year," Williams said.

Mary Kate Leonard threw a complete-game, two-hitter in the 12-1 win. Denmark also received seven innings of two-run ball in Game 1 from Taylor Gajdik, who struck out nine batters.

Gajdik also collected three hits and drove in two runs in Game 1, while Harris went 3-for-4 with four RBIs, and Williams had two hits and scored twice from atop the Danes' lineup.

Williams had a brush with school history last October, when her 3-for-4 night against Central left her a home run shy of the cycle.

This year, she touched them all.

"She's kind of not been hitting like herself until tonight," Huffstetler said of Williams. "We've been waiting and waiting and waiting for her to get going. Other people who hadn't been hitting, they'd been kind of pushed down the lineup and others have been pushed up, but we weren't going to touch Jordan because we knew it was coming. She's a stud, too. It took a little while — a couple of extra games we wouldn't have wanted, but I think we've got Jordan back."

Maynard led the Bulldogs offensively, finishing 3-for-6 an accounting for all three RBIs in the doubleheader. Her two-run single in the fifth inning of Game 1 scored Taylor Jackson and Keeley O'Hara.