Siler City Jordan-Matthews softball coach Chris Mote said one of the best moments of the season came during the schools athletic banquet last week when each of the 13 players were recognized as an N.C. High School Athletic Association scholar athlete.
We talk a lot about working as hard in the classroom as we do in the field, said Mote, who is in his first season as the Jets coach. Thats really important to us.
Jordan-Matthews (23-4) plays East Rutherford for the 2A state title (25-3) in the first game of a best-of-three series at 8 p.m. Friday at Raleighs Walnut Creek Softball Complex. The second game is scheduled for Saturday morning at 11 a.m. A third game, if needed, is scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m.
Jordan-Matthews is led by sophomore pitcher Holly Clark, who has all 23 wins and is among the national leaders with 219 strikeouts, and senior shortstop Madison Poe, a four-year starter who has signed with Lenoir Rhyne. Dee DeCristofaro is hitting .540 and has driven in 41 runs.
The Jets have won 13 straight since dropping a 7-6 game to Chatham Central, one of three one-run losses.
The girls got together after the Chatham Central game, Mote said. We had made some errors and hadnt played as well as we should have. Our focus wasnt good. They said they were not going to play that way again.
Mote said the teams ability to learn quickly has been a big asset.
Generally, you tell teach them something, they remember it, he said. They are not only smart on the field, they are smart off of it, too. Plus, this is a really close bunch. They all hang out together. Not in little groups, but all together.
Respect: Pikeville Aycock beat South Johnston 4-2 and 5-4 after dropping the first game in the 3A semifinals to the Trojans, 11-5. The Falcons (21-3) play Monroe Sun Valley (24-5) in the first game of the 3A championship series Friday at 8 p.m.
Aycock slugger Meredith Burroughs, who is hitting .516 with nine home runs, shares the state record for most homers in a season with 19, which she hit in 2012. The N.C. State recruit currently shares the state record with 42 career home runs.
She didnt have many opportunities to swing against South Johnston, though. The Trojans walked her 12 times in three games.
Softball player of the year: Junior Vada Sherrill of Alexander Central was named the N.C. Gatorade softball player of the year. She is batting .555 with three home runs, 40 RBIs and a state-record 59 runs scored. She also has 17 doubles, three triples and 48 stolen bases.
Alexander Central (33-0) begins a best-of-three 4A championship series at Walnut Creek on Friday at 7 p.m., against Fayetteville Cape Fear (26-1).
Cape Fear, whose only loss was to Middle Creek in the eastern region semifinals, is led by Haley Cashwell, who had a state-record 22 consecutive hits earlier this year. She is hitting .696.
Wrestling change: Sam Hershey will not be returning to his position as the wrestling coach at Wake Forest High next season. He stepped away from wrestling because of the expected arrival of a child this year.
He coached the girls softball team to a 16-2-1 record this spring in his only season as head coach, but is not expected to return to those duties.
I had a great 10 years at Wake Forest, Hershey said.
Track championships: Ravenscroft distance runner Ryen Frazier and Apex athlete Sydnei Murphy are entered in three events each in the New Balance Nationals Outdoor track and field championships which will be held June 13-15 at N.C. A&T in Greensboro.
Frazier won the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 3A titles in the 1,600 and 3,200 this spring. She also will run the 5,000, which is not contested in high school championship competition in North Carolina.
Murphy won the NCHSAA 4A long jump and triple jump and was second in the 100 meters. She will compete in all three events in Greensboro.
Other area state champions who are entered in the national championship event are Carys Layla White (girls 400), Southeast Raleighs Jacklyn Howell (girls 100 hurdles), Apexs Anna Eaton (girls pole vault), Southeast Raleighs Jamaree Murray (boys 400), North Raleigh Christians Ryan Speer (boys 800), Durham Hillsides Marcus Krah (boys 110 hurdles), Apexs Andrew Pedersen (boys pole vault) and Wakefields Elijah Mallory (boys shot put).
Lacrosse hall: Former Durham Riverside boys lacrosse coach James Kirkley is among four coaches who will be inducted into the N.C. Chapter of the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame on June 21 at the N.C. State University Club.
Kirkland was the commissioner of the N.C. High School Lacrosse Association before the NCHSAA added lacrosse as one of its championship sports. His Riverside teams won four NCHSLA titles and he helped with the transition from a club sport to an NCHSAA sport.
Former N.C. State coach Charlie Patch, University of North Carolina womens coach Jenny Levy, former college and high school coach Mark Goldsmith, former N.C. State player Larry Rice, and former N.C. Chapter of U.S. Lacrosse president Edmund McCaffray also will be inducted.