Lady Raiders win state championship

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, May 24, 2023

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Pungo Christian Academy claimed its first softball state championship with a two game sweep of top-seeded Halifax Academy Friday and Saturday at North Carolina Wesleyan in Rocky Mount.

The second-seeded Lady Raiders (16-2) avenged a season-opening 11-1 loss to the Vikings with a 3-0 victory Friday, then clinched the title with a 5-4 win Saturday afternoon.

Senior Reagan Stoop was on the mound for both victories and struck out the final two Halifax hitters with runners at first and second to wrap up the title.

PCA scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning Friday to snap a scoreless tie. Senior Abbey Cutler led off with a bunt single, stole second, the scored on Emma Hanna’s double. Melanie Rutledge scored her with a sacrifice fly, then EllaKate Hanna triple and scored on Reese Blackmon’s single to cap the scoring.

Saturday’s match up was back and forth. Both team scored a pair of runs in the first, then Halifax scored in the fourth for a 3-2 lead, but PCA answered with a pair of runs in the bottom half, then added Rutledge’s lead-off home run in fifth for a 5-3 advantage. The Vikings scored in the seventh before Stoop ended the series with back to back strikeouts.  She fanned 10 in each game to clinch the school’s first softball state championship in five trips to the title series.

The Lady Raiders advanced to their second consecutive championship series with an 11 – 2 victory over Lawrence Academy. Ginny Pugh, Reagan Stoop and Emma Hanna each had two hits. Stoop pitched all 7 innings, giving up 4 hits and an earned run with 10 strikeouts in her final home game.

Soccer traveled to Oakwood School with a trip to the state title on the line. Things started off poorly for the Raiders as goalkeeper Autumn Gibbs rolled out of the goalie box with possession of the ball, resulting in a direct kick for the Eagles. Oakwood was able to capitalize on the Raider’s confusion, giving them a 1 – 0 lead just minutes into the game. The Eagles scored three more times in the opening half for a 4-0 halftime lead. PCA scored twice in the second half, but lost, 5-2. The Lady Raiders finished 13 – 4 – 1 and have gone 25 – 10 – 1 in the program’s first two seasons. They will return 14 out of 16 players next season, including two time conference Player of the Year Katie Baxter.

Baseball played Lawrence Academy for the fourth time this year in the semi-finals and lost 7-3. Evan Woolard led the Raiders going 2 – 2 at the plate with an RBI double. Bo Spencer also picked up two hits and a double. Austin Garrish and Jay Askew each had a hit in the loss. Woolard gave up two hits and three runs with five strikeouts for the pitching loss. He also recorded his 100th career strikeout. PCA finished with a 12 – 7 record and will return all but one player going into next season