Porter Ridge softball claims school’s first state title
by Aaron Garcia
On June 2, the Porter Ridge softball team downed Holly Springs, 2-0, in successive games to clinch the best-of-three series for the Class 4A state title. It was the first team state title of any kind for the school and the first softball state championship for Union County since Sun Valley won the Class 3A title in 1997.
The state championship capped a dream season for the Pirates, who improved their record to 31-1. In Game 1, the Pirates were officially held hitless by Holly Springs’ pitcher Erica Nunn, who struck out 10 batters but started the game with a walk to Courtney Price, who stole second base and scored when Kayleigh Jonas hit a ball to right field that was misjudged by the fielder and ruled an error. Haley Secrest then reached home on a sacrifice fly from Tara Loken to give the Pirates their decisive 2-0 lead.
Porter Ridge coach Lael Rorie said with the early lead, Nunn’s strong performance never took the wind out of her team’s sails.
“I was just glad we produced two runs there at the beginning of it and kind of set the tone for the game,” said Rorie. “We did enough to get on and get it done. At that stage, you’re not going to get a lot of hits. We were just hoping we’d put the (hits) together. We worked a lot on getting people into scoring position and getting the ball out of the infield, and I think the first game we did a great job of that.”
In the circle, Auburn recruit Lexi Davis held Holly Springs scoreless for her 21st shutout of the season.
According to Rorie, the team kept the Game 1 win in perspective.
“When we finished that first game, we didn’t celebrate or anything; we just realized we still had business to take care of,” said Rorie.
Game 2 was a little smoother for the Pirates, who jumped to a 1-0 lead after Courtney Price led off the game with a double and scored on two consecutive passed balls. Tara Loken then smacked a single in the fourth and scored on a bunt by Bobbi Jones. Davis was again exceptional in the circle, holding Holly Springs scoreless while surrendering just two hits and recording eight strikeouts and her 22nd shutout of the season.
“I’m very confident with (Davis) out there,” said Rorie. “She gives up very few walks and does a good job of keeping them off base.”
The key, especially against another stingy pitcher, was setting the pace on the base paths, said Rorie. On the season, the Pirates stole 151 total bases.
“I think speed was a big factor (in our success),” said Rorie, who pointed to the 92 combined RBIs from Davis, Jonas and Loken. “If we have someone on base, we typically had a good chance of getting them in with one of those three bats.”
Now, the Pirates can relax and enjoy the moment after accomplishing their ultimate goal for the season.
“It’s a great accomplishment, and we’re super-excited,” said Rorie. “The school’s been so supportive of us and has done all kinds of stuff for us. (The championship) meant a lot to the school and the community. We’re all very excited.
“It almost seems like it’s not real and somebody should pinch me.”