Cornerstone battles for third-straight title

Published 12:47 am Sunday, May 3, 2009

Cornerstone captured its third AISA Class 1A softball state title Saturday in unusual fashion, having to come out of the losers bracket and take two games over Ashford in the final, 5-1 and 3-2, at Lagoon Park in Montgomery.

The battle from behind made this year’s championship sweeter than either of the previous two years.

“This is the best one yet, because we had to fight so far,” Cornerstone ace pitcher Chelsey Dunnaway said.

After losing to Ashford to start the day, Cornerstone was forced to beat the Falcons twice in the finals to win the championship. Rallying from behind both times, they did.

Ashford took a 1-0 lead in the championship game, as pitcher Desa Rae Bridges carried a perfect game into the fifth inning, but that’s when the Chargers’ bats woke up, scoring five runs to take the win and force a second title game.

CCS junior Nicole Davis put the Chargers on the board in the second with a RBI single that scored Kailey Goodwin. Ashford pushed two runs across in the fifth to take the lead.

The Chargers (35-4) tied the game, 2-2, on a wild pitch that scored Brook Calma. After a long at bat, senior Brittany Duke followed with an RBI single to score Jana Armstrong and provide the winning run.

“Coach Mark (Armstrong) just put his hands together like he always does and gave us that look like you’ve got to do the best that you can,” Duke said.

To start the day, Dunnaway struck out 16 batters and allowed one hit through seven scoreless innings against Ashford, but an error in extra innings by Davis allowed Ashford to score and beat the Chargers’ 1-0 in the first game Saturday, forcing the Chargers to the losers’ bracket for the first time since 2006.

Davis let the play get to her at first, but regrouped to be a leader on offense.

“I knew my team needed me, especially after I did that the first game,” Davis said. “I was determined I was going to make it up by hitting.”

Davis went 4-for-4 with three RBIs in the losers’ bracket game to help the Chargers to an 8-0 win over Wilcox Academy to reach the championship game against Ashford.

Dunnaway, who was named tournament MVP, said the day was not only wearing down her shoulder, but was mentally exhausting.

“I’ve never been so wore out in my entire life,” said Dunnaway of the back-and-forth battles with Ashford.

She finished the tournament with 43 strikeouts in eight games. Joining her on the All-Tournament team were Hope Anderson, Davis and Goodwin.

Ashford ended Cornerstone’s two-year win streak at 67 games in March and is the only team to be the Chargers this season. The other loss came to Class 3A champion Glenwood.