CCS winning as usual

Published 1:00 am Thursday, March 19, 2009

It’s a factory for wins. The past two seasons, winning has become the norm for Cornerstone Christian School softball, and this year is no different, as CCS (14-0) carries a 66-game win streak into the end of March.

“I’m surprised. Going on three years right here is pretty crazy … 66-0 … Never would have thought it,” junior ace pitcher Chelsey Dunnaway said. “We’ve had close games the past two years and we’ve somehow pulled them out to keep going with our winning streak.”

Dunnaway points to the ingredients all coaches like to hear: hard work, good attitude and closeness as a team. But one of the reasons the Chargers keep winning is the ability to take players at a young age in AISA Class 1A and build them into starters.

Head coach Mark Armstrong is starting two freshmen (Jana Armstrong and Destiny Dillard) and an eighth grader (Brooke Calma) this season, all three played a good bit last year and are seeing time in the pitching circle this year to prepare for Dunnaway’s departure in 2010.

“I feel like they went from a little girl to a big girl this year,” Armstrong said. “Over the off season they’ve grown up. I’m not afraid to put them out there.”

Jana Armstrong has seen the circle the most as a freshman, helping Dunnaway complete a perfect game March 13 over Abbeville, 10-0. It was the second combined perfect game and third shared no-hitter in two weeks for the pair.

“When our team scores so many runs its no big deal after that, because we have such good defense behind us,” Jana Armstrong said.

But the importance of the youth is not just at backing up the pitcher. It’s also at the plate. Dillard was 3-for-4 with an RBI in her last outing, while Calma had three RBIs and sophomore catcher Kailey Goodwin had three RBIs to lift CCS over Chambers Academy, 10-0, March 17.

Armstrong said he believes his team is better this year, hitting the ball from the top to bottom of the lineup.

One welcomed bat in the order is the return of senior Hope Anderson, who left for Montevallo before last year, but came back to CCS for her senior season.

“To get her back with her speed, her ability to play defense, it’s a huge plus,” Armstrong said. “She can help us in all phases of the game.”

Anderson was one of the key offensive threats on the 2007 team that first won state at Cornerstone with a 26-0 record. Last year, CCS did it again. With half a season remaining, the Chargers are looking for their third title and possibly a third undefeated season.

“Who knows. We just have to try one game at a time. I don’t like to speculate like that,” said Armstrong, whose only loss in four years as a head coach came in the 2006 state tournament. “I never thought we’d be here. We’ve played too many good teams.”

Anderson, however, thinks the winning tradition will continue.

“I think it’s going to go on for a year or two, maybe longer than that,” she said. “We’ve got a bunch of great athletes in here from ninth through 12th.”

CCS will travel to Abbeville Friday and Ashford Saturday before playing in the Prattville Tournament Monday and Tuesday for Spring Break.