Cougars rally past Wesleyan, 6-5

Apr. 29, 2013 @ 11:16 PM

Despite a couple rough innings early, the High Point Christian softball team stuck with it and continued to battle. It finally paid off with a big win against rival Wesleyan Christian.

Twice trailing by three runs early, the Cougars rallied to tie it in the fourth, scored the go-ahead run in the sixth and held on in the seventh for a 6-5 win Monday at Wallburg Baptist Church in a meeting of state-ranked rivals.

“They went through the process and played extremely hard,” coach Jeremy Cecil said.  “I was very happy with their effort. When things weren’t going well, they went through the process the way they’ve been coached and I was very proud of them.

“It goes back to their character and how hard they practice. At practice, they go very hard and that just transcends into how they play in the game. That’s a testament to their will-power and what they do. They’re a great group of kids.”

High Point Christian (14-1, 4-0 PACIS), ranked No. 3 in the NCISAA 3A, trailed 3-0 in the top of the first and 5-2 in the top of the third but answered with two in the bottom of the first and two in the bottom of the third to stay within 5-4.

The Cougars tied it in the fourth when Austen Coats hit a two-out single to score Lindsay Payne, who had doubled. 

They then took the lead in the sixth. Maddie Faulkner led off with a single to left that got by the outfielder, moving her to second. After a fielder’s choice and walk loaded the bases with one out, Faulkner scored from third when the shortstop fielded Coats’ infield chopper and made a quick throw home. But the catcher was off the plate as Faulkner slid in safely.

“We were a little nervous (after the rough start), but we kept our cool and knew we could do it,” said Faulkner, an eighth-grader who also plays first base. “We basically picked up our spirits.

“This team is a very hard-working team. We’ve come back a lot and we want that win. We’re very dedicated. . . .They’re a big rival. So, coming out of here with a win, I think that gave all the girls big confidence.”

The second-ranked Trojans (12-1, 3-1) did move the tying run to third and go-ahead run to second with two outs in the seventh. But starting pitcher Ashlyn Kennedy (8-0), also an eighth-grader, got a pop-out to third for the final out and the win.

Wesleyan started very well, taking advantage of a number of early walks. But it couldn’t quite come up with the couple big hits or big plays to break free from High Point Christian, which regrouped well from its early nervousness.

“I felt like, all in all, we played a decent game but not our best,” Trojans coach Donald Brewer said. “... We fought and hung in there, but you’ve got to give them credit. They played well and didn’t make many mistakes.

“We didn’t hit the ball well, and they made plays behind us. Today, they were the better team. . . .Sometimes getting beat helps you and it kind of brings you back down to earth, lets you know where you stand. It was a good experience.”

Faulkner had two hits and two RBIs for the Cougars, who will host Calvary Baptist today before visiting Wesleyan on Friday for the rematch. Coats and Lindsay Cecil each had two RBIs, and Sloane McPeak added two hits.

Taylor Travers had three hits while Sydney Parker had two RBIs for Wesleyan. Cayla Cecil, Michaela Hicks and Ashton Prillaman each had one RBI while Kayla Brewer (1-1) took the loss in 2 1/3 innings relief of starter Cayla Cecil.

The Trojans play again today at Forsyth Country Day before hosting High Point Christian at 5 p.m. on Friday.