Led by five determined seniors, the top-ranked Pusch Ridge Christian Academy softball team won the Division IV State Championship Saturday, beating sixth-seed St. Johns in a nail-biting 3-2 win.
The winning hit was by sophomore Kristi Overman, who brought in freshmen McKayla Rossi over home plate for the go ahead score.
“We went out there with our year motto that the only team that could beat us was us,” said head coach Bob Vance. “They just needed to go out and relax, and do the abilities that God has given them to do.”
The Lions did just that. With an 8-3 win over a younger Northwest Christian team on Friday, the Lions stayed to watch St. Johns play St. David. This was the first time they had seen them play, which Vance said helped prepare them for the championship game.
With seniors Rachel Majors, Corrie Ward, Rachel Ward, Paige Sheppard, and Rachel Ellis the Lions had nothing to worry about.
“If there is one thing that I would say has been our biggest strength this year it’s our senior leadership,” said Vance. “They are all extremely talented and have helped the younger players along throughout the entire season.”
One player that Vance said was the “backbone” of their team throughout the season was injured catcher, Ellis. Although she was unable to play the second half of the season, Ellis’ encouragement and positive attitude helped motivate the team, he said.
“She was always there to pick people up,” said Vance. “She was kind of like the mother of the team, taking care of people.”
With a championship now under the belt the Lions will lose five talented seniors, whose shoes will be hard to fill.
Two players to keep an eye next year are senior Rachel Majors, and sophomore Maddie Dowdle.