PCA spring sports: Lady Raiders ready for another run

Published 5:19 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2023

SOFTBALL: Pungo Christian Academy softball is poised for another successful season this spring. All 12 players return from last year’s 20 – 3 state runner-up squad, including two-time conference player of the year Reagan Stoop. In 88 career games, Stoop has a .589 batting average with 152 hits and 110 RBI. On the mound, she has a career record of 54 – 11 with a 1.27 ERA and 527 strike outs in 402 innings. Behind the plate is junior Melanie Rutledge, who has a .521 career batting average in 70 games played with 111 hits and 103 RBI. The sister duo of Emma and Ellakate Hanna also return. Emma (10th) hit .449 in 36 games with 44 hits and 24 RBI. Ellakate (8th) batted .431 in her first varsity season with 22 hits and 26 RBI. The Lady Raiders are coached by Leigh Stoop, who passed 100 career victories last season. The Raiders non-conference schedule is highlighted with matchups against Halifax Academy, Cape Fear Christian Academy and Arendell Parrott Academy. The Tar Heel Independent Conference has just four teams as Terra Ceia and Northeast Academy are not fielding varsity teams this spring.

BASEBALL: The Raiders are coming off a 13 – 8 season and a trip to the NCISAA quarterfinals. Five seniors, including the top two pitchers graduated. Sophomore Evan Woolard is expected to be the lead pitcher this year. Woolard finished his freshman year with 30 strikeouts in 19 innings pitched with a 5.16 ERA. Juniors Austin Garrish and Bo Spencer are the top returning bats. The two combined for 36 hits and 31 RBI. Spencer is also a two-time TIC All-Conference player. The Raiders will have a lot of youth on the team this year, as over half the team is underclassmen. The Raiders face a challenging non-conference schedule, with games against Arendell Parrott, Kerr Vance Academy and Halifax Academy in the first two weeks of the season. 1A favorite Lawrence Academy will be the team to beat in the TIC. Todd Waters begins his first season as the Raiders head coach.

SOCCER: After making history a season ago in the Raiders first-ever girls soccer season, PCA is looking to make more with a deep post-season run. The Raiders return 11 players, including five newcomers. TIC Player of the Year Katie Baxter is back for her junior campaign. Baxter scored 26 goals and had 18 assists in 18 games. Sophomore Julia Rouse is will look to take over at the striker position. Rouse had 12 goals and six assists last season. Junior Autumn Gibbs will likely take over as goalie, a spot her sister Audrey played a season ago. She will have big shoes to fill as her sister had 135 saves in 17 games last year, leading the TIC. The Lady Raiders will be coached by Logan Van Staalduinen in his second year as head coach