Lady Cougars capture AISA Runner-Up

Published 10:03 pm Wednesday, May 10, 2023

The Crenshaw Christian Academy (CCA) Lady Cougars ended a strong softball season on a high note Saturday, capturing the Alabama Independent School Association (AISA) Class 1A Runner-Up title.

The Cougars earned 32 wins and assistant coach Dr. Eddie Billings said the team played some really strong teams throughout the season..

“We played what turned out to be the 2A state champions, Hooper Academy, multiple times and we won our fair share, maybe more than our fair share,” Billings said. “Pretty much everybody on our schedule made it into the state tournament. In fact, the only 1A team that beat us ended up winning the state championship this year.”

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CCA played through all three days of the state tournament, defeating Coosa Valley Academy, 14-1, and North River Christian Academy 14-1 on Thursday, gaining a win over Lowndes Academy 3-0 Friday, and falling to Lowndes, 2-6, Saturday to place as state runner-up for Class 1A.

Billings said the team entered the competition ready to win, advancing to the final round aiming for victory. On Friday, Lowndes fell behind and failed to recover, but on Saturday, early game errors held the Cougars back to finish second in the state.

“In any sport, some days are just not your day,” Billings said. “We started with a couple of errors back to back and Lowndes hit a couple of bloops just over the infielders head but in front of the outfielder, so we just got snowballed in the first inning. Then, we were playing from behind.”

Several Lady Cougars led their team in the season and during the tournament. According to Billings, senior Mattie Claire Register “showed out” at the state competition.

“She started off the year in a clump, but she really came back during the tournament and actually made the all-tournament team,” Billings said.

Register’s father, Chris Pederson, is assistant athletic director and girls basketball coach at CCA, and said the tournament was bittersweet for the senior.

“My daughter has played since the seventh grade but this is our first year at CCA,” Pederson said. “The [tournament] was bittersweet because we were runner-up to [Lowndes] in basketball and we had to play them again and lose to the again [in softball.] We beat them on Friday and we had a lot of confidence going into the second game, but we just couldn’t pull it out.”

Catcher Libby Tompkins played well, Billings said, as did Molly Martin, a lefty who regularly plays third base and also fills in to pitch.

“Molly gives her all,” Billings said. “It was overall a good team effort through the whole year.”

Pitcher Abby Henderson gained several milestones during the season.

“She was a freshman during the 2020 COVID year and we didn’t get but a handful of games that year,” Billings said. “Otherwise some of the strikeouts and other stats would be even higher, but she ended up with 1,812 strikeouts during her career. She threw 20,028 career pitches, which is the equivalent of throwing 163 miles. She faced 5,245 batters but only gave up 891 hits total.”

Register, Henderson, and Singleton were named to the association’s All-Tournament Team. Henderson and senior Tanna Singleton also played on the AISA All-Stars team on May 8.