Mission Accomplished

The Metrolina Christian Academy softball team gives school first state title

by Aaron Garcia

The Metrolina Christian Academy Warriors: 2012 N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 3A champions. Photo courtesy of Ricky Broome

There aren’t too many softball situations more pressure-packed than having two outs with the tying runner at the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning of a state championship game. But that’s exactly what Metrolina Christian senior pitcher Mallory Broome was facing in the early evening of May 19.

With her Warriors clinging to a 3-1 lead over top-ranked High Point Christian in the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 3A title game, Metrolina Christian coach Ricky Broome said it was hard to tell that his daughter already had pitched 22 full innings that day.

“You could just see it and feel it from what Mallory was presenting there in the (pitcher’s) circle,” said Ricky Broome. “She knew what she wanted to do, and she just went after that hitter.”

A few seconds later, Broome’s two-strike, two-out offering found catcher Bailey Bjorson’s mitt for the third and final strike of the day, giving the Warriors their first state championship.

“Once she got that last strike, her emotions totally came out: she was crying and pumping her fists,” said Ricky Broome. “She ran straight to home plate and hugged (longtime teammate) Bailey (Bjorson). Those two have been the backbone of this team at the pitcher/catcher positions. It was so exciting to see those two faces (celebrating), especially considering how they ended (it) by striking the batter out.

“Next thing you know, everybody was out of the dugout and going toward home plate.”

While much of the players’ reaction was due to the joy of winning a state title, some of it had to be relief, given the Warriors’ playoff trek. After finishing the regular season with a 20-1 record, the Warriors earned the No. 2 seed for the state playoffs and opened play with shutout wins over Winston-Salem Calvary Baptist, Charlotte Providence Day and Charlotte Christian, setting up a championship showdown with High Point Christian on May 19.

Because of the tournament’s double-elimination format, High Point Christian needed two wins over the Warriors to claim the title.  After the first seven innings of regulation, the teams were knotted at two runs apiece. The score remained the same for the next eight innings before High Point Christian scored in the bottom of the 16th to win, 3-2, forcing the second, and final, game. Broome struck out 19 batters in the loss.

But that would be the last loss the Warriors would surrender.

Broome went 2-for-3 at the plate in the final game, as did Bjorson and Cheyenne Bricken. Casey Long, the team’s other senior along with Broome, went 1-for-3.

The win concluded a stellar career for Broome, a Western Carolina University signee who was named to the All-Metrolina Athletic Conference team since first starting as a seventh-grader. This year, she picked up her fourth consecutive all-state nod after recording a 24-2 record with 17 shutouts and 342 strikeouts while putting together a 0.32 ERA. At the plate, she batted .520 with nine home runs.

Ricky Broome said he sat back and let his players enjoy the moment but made a point to find his daughter during the celebration.

“I told her that her career was fantastic,” said Ricky, who concluded his fifth season coaching the Warriors. “Her senior year was outstanding, and I was proud of her not just as a dad, but as a coach.”

The state championship was the first team title in any sport for Metrolina, which honored the squad the following day at a church service.

“To me, of course, it’s great for school pride. I’m always big on that,” said Ricky. “It meant a lot, not just for the school, but the church and the community.”

The Warriors’ roster also included Jenna Leak, Sophie Ivie, Jena Hickey, Kylie Nestor, Victoria Bennett, Lauren Walters, Aly Cramond, Hannah Briggs, Rebecca Brewer, Macy Bjorson and ­Taylor ­Blalock.

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