Sun Valley wins state in softball
All season Sun Valley's softball team had one mantra: "Finish the mission."
On Saturday afternoon, they did just that by defeating C.B. Aycock 6-4 to bring home the 2014 N.C. 3A State Softball Championship.
For a second straight game the Spartans (26-5) fought back from an early deficit and put the pressure on the Eastern Champion Golden Falcons (21-5).
"That's the character of this team," Spartans coach Rob Enloe said after his team came back from a 2-0 deficit in the finale. "They never quit. ... We battled back. We got our rest last night. The girls got up and did what was necessary. There was not a lot of fanfare. It was, 'here is what you have to do.' A lot of people have different philosophies and styles. We're just very matter of fact with our girls. Brittney Pickett pitched a heck of a game and she just hit the ball. She carried the load. That's not to take away from the other girls because we left a bunch on base. Sometimes you have to be lucky enough to push some runs across."
Pickett allowed the first run of the game to score on her own error, marking the first of two runs in the bottom of the second for the Falcons.
Pickett didn't look comfortable, but got some kind words from junior catcher Hannah Adamczyk.
"We just had to stay calm and not get too jittery about it," Adamczyk said after falling behind. "We had to relax and play like it was just another inning in the game. I had to keep Brittney calm because she was getting really excited. It was great. It felt amazing to get that last strike and finish the mission."
She turned that early mistake around both on the mound and at the plate, going 3-for-3 on the day.
Pickett drove in the Spartans' first run with a single in the third to drive in Hailey Hanrahan.
The Spartans took the lead in the third with a bases loaded error of a Courtney Dean ground ball.
A wild pitch allowed a third run to score for the Spartans in the inning.
Pickett drew a bases loaded walk in the fifth to give the Spartans a 5-2 lead.
The Falcons battled back with two in the bottom of the fifth but Pickett came through in the top of the seventh were her second double of the game to drive in Adamczyk, who led off the inning with a single and was the only other multi-hit Spartan with a 2-for-3 day.
Pickett, a sophomore, was voted Most Valuable Player of the finals.
"It was just incredible," Pickett said. "It gave me the best feeling in the world. I knew my team had my back. I knew I could finish it. I was just wondering who was going to be it. I left everything on the field. This was our time and we deserved it. This was my game."
For 3A schools it will be tough to knock the Spartans off the top of the pedestal next season as they return all but two seniors, third baseman Hailey Hanrahan and designated hitter Abby Faircloth.
Those two survived through tough seasons when they got to high school, including an 4-18 freshman campaign.
The junior Adamczyk was happy to send them off on top.
"It felt great because they started off and the team wasn't that good four years ago," Adamczyk said. "It wasn't that good my freshman year. It felt great to finally get them some wins and then the state championship they can take to college with them."
It was the first state championship the Spartans have won in softball in 17 years and for Enloe it was all about Sun Valley when the final strike was called.
"This is for the Valley," Enloe said. "This is for all the people that may question Sun Valley athletics. ... This is for the kids and the parents that show up every game and show pride in Sun Valley."