Cape Fear Christian Academy won its eighth North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association championship in softball Saturday as seventh-grader Megan Harrold drew a bases-loaded walk with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 7-6 victory in the third and deciding game of the title series with Pungo Christian of Belhaven.
Harrold fouled off nine pitches with a full count before watching an offering that was high and outside.
CFCA was the top seed for the tournament and finished the season 19-5 with a 6-5 loss to the Raiders in the second game of the final series on Saturday. Pungo overcame a 5-2 deficit to force the rubber matchup as the temperature climbed into the 90s.
“This was a Rocky (Balboa) series,” said CFCA coach Sterling Holmes. “We finally threw the last punch.”
The Eagles led 4-1 after the first inning of the final game, but Pungo pulled even at 4 in the top of the fifth.
CFCA took a 6-4 lead into the seventh inning of the final game.
Kristina Kennedy was 2-for-3 in the final game with a run and two runs batted in. Mariah Bell was 3-for-4 with a run.
Pungo had three earned runs in the last game as the Eagles committed four errors.
Claire Parker started and pitched three innings. Kim Bordeaux pitched the last four innings with seven strikeouts.
Pungo, the second seed for the tournament, finished 20-3.
Cailee Ray and Parker each had a hit, a run and an RBI in the deciding game. Bordeaux had a hit and scored twice. Rhyleigh Horne had a hit and scored a run.
Harrold had a hit and the game-ending RBI.
After Parker was hit by a pitch to load the bases in the bottom of the seventh, plate umpire Bobby Carpenter had to leave the game with a 2-0 count on Harrold due to heat issues. Play was delayed while Carpenter was treated in the third-base dugout and Randy Bain put on his plate equipment.
The contest was completed with Bain on the plate and Donald Alford calling the bases.
CFCA won state championships in 1990 (slow pitch), 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2015 and 2019 prior to the triumph on Saturday. The Eagles topped Pungo, 9-6, at CFCA in the final game in 2019.
There were no playoffs in 2020 due to COVID. The Eagles were runner-up in 2021 on the road to a senior-laden Halifax team after winning the first game of the final series.
That outcome left the Eagles with a mission of unfinished business in 2022.
Seniors Bell, Bordeaux, Parker and Trinity Olive graduated at Angier Baptist Church on Friday night following a 10-3 win over the Raiders in the afternoon.
The goal was to wrap up the series in the first game on Saturday and Ray, a junior, led the effort with a 2-for-4 performance that included a double, a run and two RBIs.
The home team won on an error but the problem for the Eagles was that the Raiders were designated the home team for the second game of the series.
The home team ultimately won all three games. CFCA was able to regroup and prevail in the final showdown.
All’s well that ends well as far as the Eagles were concerned.