HPCA makes epic run to state softball crown
High Point Christian Academy’s girls softball team faced elimination four times in less than 24 hours in the North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association 3A championship tournament.
Each time, the top-seeded Cougars rose to the occasion.
HPCA capped a thrilling march to the school’s first-ever state softball crown with a 5-4 victory over second-seeded Hickory Grove Christian on Saturday in the winner-take-all final of the double-elimination event hosted by Gaston Christian.
“It was an awesome day,” HPCA head coach Jeremy Cecil said. “I told the girls in the huddle (following the decisive win) that I am so proud of them for how they played and for how they never gave up. They worked hard all year and exceeded all my expectations.”
HPCA, which finished the season 20-3, needed three victories on Saturday to secure the crown.
That came after the Cougars edged Wesleyan Christian Academy 10-8 in an elimination game on Friday night.
The Cougars started things off with a 14-4 triumph over fifth-seeded Metrolina Christian in five innings in a Saturday morning elimination game. Metrolina defeated HPCA 9-5 on Friday.
HPCA then downed Hickory Grove 1-0 to set the stage for the dramatic final contest.
Eighth-grader Ashyln Kennedy pitched all three games for the Cougars on Saturday.
The final game featured four lead changes, the last coming in the fifth inning. An error allowed Maddie Faulkner to score the run that gave HPCA the lead for good.
Faulkner led the Cougars offense, going 3 for 3 with singles in the second, third and fifth innings. Her second-inning single keyed a rally that gave HPCA an early 2-0 lead. Hannah Self contributed an RBI single to plate Kennedy in that frame.
Kennedy added an RBI groundout for the Cougars.
Hickory Grove finished the season 19-5.
Earlier Saturday, HPCA got an RBI single from Sloane McPeak in the third inning against Hickory Grove.
Kennedy and company made that stand up. She struck out eight with two walks and two hits in seven stellar innings. That 1-0 victory forced the winner-take-all contest.
Kennedy struck out four and scattered nine hits and six walks in that complete-game performance.
The future appears bright for the Cougars, who lose just one senior — Lindsay Payne — to graduation.
“We feel good about what we achieved,” Cecil said. “But what is most important is the girls stayed humble and did it all to glorify God.”