As usual, pitching and defense should be featured as the top fast-pitch softball teams in the state prepare for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state championships this weekend. But there are also a number of players with spectacular offensive statistics in the eight-team field.
For the third year in a row, the Eastern and Western champions in each classification will face off in a best of three championship series at the Walnut Creek Softball Complex. All four of the championships are scheduled for Friday and Saturday. For many years the top four teams advanced to a double-elimination event.
This will mark the 20th annual fast pitch championships and the 40th year for NCHSAA softball. The Raleigh Sports Consortium and the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau are among the host city sponsors.
Class 4-A: This should be a fascinating matchup as Alexander Central (33-0), one of the state’s top softball programs, takes on Fayetteville Cape Fear (26-1) for the championship with the first game an 7 p.m. start Friday night. Alexander Central makes its 12th trip all-time to the state finals and fourth trip to Walnut Creek in the last six seasons.
Alexander Central has been rolling, with 23 wins by 10 or more runs. The Cougars get great play from Kiana Millsaps (.375, 6 HR, 38 RBI and also 17-0 with 0.85 ERA as pitcher).
Haley Cashwell of Cape Fear has been a record-setter, batting an amazing .696 on the season. Earlier this season she set a state mark with hits in 22 consecutive at-bats.
CLASS 4-A: FAYETTEVILLE CAPE FEAR (26-1) vs. ALEXANDER CENTRAL (33-0), Field 4
Friday, June 6: Game 1, 7 p.m.
Saturday, June 7: Game 2, 11 a.m.
Saturday, June 7: Game 3, if necessary, 2 p.m.
Meanwhile, Bunker Hill will go for the 2A state championship in baseball. In the two-out-of-three series, the Bears will take on 25-4 Midway at UNC-Greensboro. Game one is Friday night at 8. Game two is Saturday at 2 with game three, if necessary, game three will be held at 8pm, or 5pm if there is not a game three in the 4A class. Bunker Hill, 26-5 on the season, makes its first baseball championship visit, against the Raiders of Midway, who were the runner ups in the 1-A title last year but also moved up in realignment. Senior Colton Chapman and junior Cameron Chapman do a lot for the Bears, with Colton batting .453 with nine homers while also sporting a 12-1 mound mark with a 1.08 ERA. Midway’s Austin Hardison is batting .426 and Dylan Hardison is unbeaten on the mound at 9-0 with a 0.92 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 45 innings.
CLASS 2-A CHAMPIONSHIP: MIDWAY (25-4) vs. BUNKER HILL (26-5)
Game 1: Friday, June 6, 8 pm
Game 2: Saturday, June 7, 2 pm
Game 3: if necessary, Saturday, June 7 at 8 pm (5 pm if no third game in 4-A)