By Assistant Director of Athletics for Sports Information Bria Irizarry
Spring sports have kicked off for the 2020 season, and the Cavaliers have a lot to build off of from last year. Eleven individual All-Conference selections will be returning to compete this spring, and multiple teams that saw postseason action in 2019 have their sights set on runs in the state tournament.
The Durham Academy baseball program is looking to improve upon its 2019 season with a pair of strong leaders in place and a group of competitive ninth- and 10th-graders who are ready to make their mark. In 2019, the Cavs went 9–9 and 3–5 in Triangle Independent Schools Athletic Conference (TISAC) play, missing the state playoffs. This year, they plan to take each game in stride.
“While we may be a young group this year, we’re excited about the possibilities the year may hold,” said assistant coach Jens Herman. The team returns 2019 All-Conference selections Sam Schaeffer, a ninth-grader, and Ethan Goldstein, a sophomore. Seniors Brandon Caveney and Benny Klein are two players who will help keep the team’s goals in the forefront and will do so by focusing on one game at a time.
The team proved that this was the case on Friday at home in the season opener against Trinity. The two teams went scoreless coming out of the first inning as sophomore pitcher Jackson Niedel struck out the first three Lions up to bat. At the bottom of the second, it was junior Stephen Lamb who put the Cavs on the board first with a walk, two stolen bases and a run home to capitalize off a Lions overthrow. In the fourth inning, DA made a change at pitcher and junior Scott West threw for three strikeouts. The bottom of the fourth inning was all DA with a double from sophomore Zeph Hollenbeck and Niedel to bring the lead to 6–0. The Cavs widened the gap at the bottom of the fifth with scores from sophomore Jack Liddicoat, ninth-grader Aaron Caveney and Brandon Caveney. The last point of the game came off a walk from Goldstein, who brought Hollenbeck to home plate to secure the 10-0 win in just five innings.
After postponing their game vs. Thales Academy from Tuesday to Wednesday due to rain, the Cavaliers came out hot from the mound with pitcher Brandon Caveney striking out his first six at bat and then throwing a perfect inning in the third. At the bottom of the third, it was Brandon Caveney again with the RBI to bring home Aaron Caveney to put the Cavs up 1–0. Hollenbeck also hit an RBI double to extend the Cavs’ lead to 2–0. At the top of the fourth, Lamb went in at pitcher and the Cavs kept the 2–0 lead until the top of the sixth when ninth-grader Ben Tarpey was brought to the mound. Thales got their first runner home, but it was not enough to hold off the Cavs. DA brought in three more runs at the bottom of the sixth inning, and sophomore Sean Donahue secured a 5–1 win after retiring the first three at bat in the seventh inning.
“If you want to watch a team that’s going to give everything they have each time they step between the lines, come out to ‘The Reg’ and watch them compete,” Herman said. You can catch the Cavs in action Friday vs. Metrolina Christian at 4 p.m. here at home.
The DA girls soccer team is ready to take the field for the 2020 season after a trip to the state quarterfinals in 2019. The team will look to build off last year’s 10–6 record by returning its entire starting defense as well as last season’s leading scorer, senior Lauren Grosshandler. Head coach Susan Ellis, who is in her 16th season at the helm of the program, is excited to coach this year’s team. “I would not trade [this team] for the world. What I love about the game of soccer is that you are rewarded for hard work, and from day one, we work hard,” Ellis said.
The team will open the 2020 season on the road vs. Wesleyan Academy tonight at 5 and will face an early conference opponent in its home opener vs. Wake Christian Academy at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17.
The softball team welcomes a few new faces to the varsity squad as well as a new head coach, Emily Jansen. Jansen comes from an extensive background of softball, having suited up at both pitcher and second base during her collegiate career at Viterbo University in Wisconsin.
DA softball had a strong end to the 2019 season, and the team will rely heavily on the experience and leadership of its team captains, seniors Emily Donaldson, who was an All-Conference selection in 2019, Cristina Pastor-Valverde and Madeleine Genova.
“I’m excited by the potential for growth, and I’m looking forward to making memories with the team,” Jansen said. “My hopes for this season are that the girls grow as individuals and as a team and have fun.”
DA softball opens the season with back-to-back home games beginning today vs. Wesleyan Academy at 4:30 p.m. and then again on Tuesday, March 17, vs. Wake Christian Academy at 4:30 p.m.
DA boys tennis takes to the courts this spring with a promising lineup of impact players who are looking to avenge their state quarterfinal loss from last season. After going 11–9 in 2019 and finishing second in the TISAC, the team has a few goals in mind for this season. “It is always good to have goals that are a mix of realistic and difficult,” head coach Sean Bilsborrow said. “Winning the TISAC certainly fits that bill, as does getting to the state semifinals.”
The Cavaliers return ninth-grader Pete Crowley who led the team in wins last season at 15–2, most of which came at No. 2 singles, but Bilsborrow is also looking forward to breakout performances from the other returners on his team.
“Depth is the prevailing characteristic of this team, and I could see eight or nine guys consistently factoring into the lineup over the course of the season,” he said. “The relative parity within our team should lead to competitive practices and in turn, to significant improvement by May.”
Preseason ranked No. 19 by HighSchoolOT.com, DA tennis will continue to battle the program’s biggest rival, Cary Academy, which narrowly came out on top each of the three matches they played in 2019. Out of conference, the Cavaliers will take on Charlotte Country Day and Greensboro Day, which have historically been tough competitors.
On Monday, in the team’s first competition of the season, the Cavs earned a convincing 9–0 win over Cary Christian. At first doubles, junior Frank Borden and ninth-grader Paul Wang set the tone with an 8–0 win, and Crowley and junior Jackson Zobrist won 8–1 on court two. In singles, the Cavs swept the Knights, as each matchup took two sets.
The team will head to Florence, South Carolina, this weekend to play in the Florence High School Tennis Tournament at the Eddie Floyd Florence Tennis Center.
DA boys golfers will head into the 2020 season with a target on their backs as they look to defend their TISAC regular season and tournament championship crown from 2019. The Cavs return senior Ethan Lukes, who was the TISAC Player of the Year last season and ended as the No. 1 individual in the NCISAA.
The team will play a competitive schedule vs. both national and local powerhouses as they enter three invitationals: the Palmetto National Invitational, the Wedgewood Invitational and the Keith Hills Invitational. In the TISAC, North Raleigh Christian Academy will likely be the greatest challenger for the title.
Head coach Greg Murray is excited that the core of the team’s top four scorers from the state tournament team last year are returning. “I know that the guys have worked hard in the off-season so that we will hit the course as a contender for conference and state honors,” he said.
Murray is also looking forward to the performance of a few returners who he hopes will help the team achieve their goal of repeating as TISAC champions and finishing in the top four of the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association. He will rely on junior Jackson Brimfield, who is one of the top juniors in the Southeast, as well as senior Leo Strebel and ninth-grader William Chapman, who both scored for the Cavs at the NCISAA state tournament last year.
After postponing their match against Wake Christian on Tuesday, the Cavs will take to the course today at Hope Valley Country Club vs. Wesleyan Academy at 3 p.m.
Track and Field
DA track and field will look to accomplish yet another record-setting spring season after a successful 2019 campaign. Both the girls and boys teams ended 2019 with seventh-place finishes in the NCISAA Division I state meet, with three Cavaliers earning state titles. The squad will return senior Mark Alkins, who won the 800m individual race, and eighth-grader Allison Hall, who won the 3200m.
Head coach Costen Irons is hopeful about the success of the girls distance runners, the sprinters and those in field events. The girls will be led by distance runners senior captain Claire Middleton and junior captain Anna Catherine Wilson, who along with Hall and sophomore Stella Stringer finished 1, 2, 4 and 5 at the state meet last year. Junior captain Lucy Steiner will be joined by returning sprinters senior Camille Capehart, junior Lee Jeffries and ninth-grader Amani Diallo, as well as junior Izzi Pierson in hurdles. Sophomore Julianna Hallyburton will look to improve on her state runner-up performance in the pole vault from last year.
“I’m so excited to continue building a strong team culture with this great group of runners, throwers and jumpers,” Middleton said. “Our biggest competition this year will definitely be Cary Academy, our rivals, and I’m excited to face off against them one last time!”
The boys team will be captained by senior distance runners Matthew Barnes and Shan Wang, as well as sprinter Kunal Pathak. Juniors Ryan Norris and Alexei Byerly will make an impact in hurdles, and junior Lukas Dannull will be one to watch in the jump category. Irons is optimistic that his runners have put in a lot of time in the off-season to improve, and he is looking forward to seeing that extra work pay off.
“At the start of every season,” Irons said, “the goal is always to become better as both athletes and as people throughout the process.”
Both teams will compete this afternoon in their first meet of the season vs. Wake Christian and Cary Christian here at DA at 4 p.m.
DA girls lacrosse is hoping to make another run in the state tournament this year after making an appearance in the state semifinals in 2019 and going 10–6 overall and 6–3 in conference. Preseason ranked No. 7 in the East by HighSchoolOT.com, the Cavs return All-State and All-Conference players Brooke Epstein and Charlotte Easley, as well as All-Conference players senior Caroline Sapir and junior Katherine Lantzy.
The team hosted its first competition vs. Saint Mary’s School Wednesday night and secured a 10–goal victory over the visiting Saints on Alumni Field. The Cavs went on an early 4–0 run in the first half with goals from Epstein, Sapir and Easley. Saint Mary’s earned its first goal of the game with just under 10 minutes left in the first half, but the Cavs were quick to respond with another six-goal run heading into halftime.
The Cavs got into a bit of foul trouble early in the second half, allowing three free position opportunities, which resulted in goals for Saint Mary’s. Over the next 15 minutes, DA outworked the Saints to cause turnovers in the midfield and converted them into goals. Easley, eighth-grader Fleming Burkert and Epstein all got on the board to extend the Cavs’ lead to 15–4. The Saints found the back of the net two more times off of successful draw controls, but DA ultimately won the battle 16–6, with Sapir leading the team in points, with three goals and four assists, and Epstein close behind with four goals and one assist.
“I’m proud of the way the girls came together in our first game of the season,” head coach Debbie Rebosa said. “They competed hard, and it’s exciting to think about what is in store for us in 2020.”
The girls will have a quick turnaround, as they face Reynolds High School on Friday afternoon at UNC’s Finley Fields and Myers Park High School from Charlotte on Saturday morning at Cardinal Gibbons, both in the King of Spring Face-Off Classic.
After making an appearance in the 2019 state quarterfinal and going 7–9 overall, the Cavaliers are looking forward to another competitive season in 2020. The Cavs are ranked preseason No. 14 according to HighSchoolOT.com. They will kick off this year’s campaign on Friday with a tough matchup vs. Charlotte Latin, which is preseason ranked No. 18 in the HSOT western North Carolina ranking. The two teams will face off in the King of Spring event, hosted annually by Durham Academy. The Cavs face another formidable opponent in the John Carroll School of Bel Air, Maryland, on Saturday at Duke University’s Cohan Fields.
DA lacrosse returns juniors John Donovan and Gavin Schulz, who were selected All-Conference in 201, and will rely on the leadership of captains Schulz, Donovan and senior Donovan Moylan.
Keeping up with the Cavs
As always, you can keep up with the Cavs on Durham Academy’s website and the Durham Academy App (available on the Apple App Store).
- For a list of all teams, their schedules and directions to games, visit www.da.org/teams.
- Click on an individual team to subscribe to automatic alerts about athletics results, postponements and cancellations, calendar and athletic event reminders. You can also import team schedules into your electronic calendars.
- All information about the daily athletics schedule is also available on DA’s Athletics Hotline: 919-489-2534 (ext. 5).
The DA App: Schedules and Results
- The DA App allows you to keep up with athletics wherever you are. You can download the app from iTunes at http://bit.ly/DACavaliers. The DA App pulls athletics content directly from the DA website and delivers it to iOS-based devices including iPhone and iPad.
- The Athletics portion of the DA App (after launching, click Menu, then click Athletics to open) features results of recent games, a list of upcoming contests and team records.