Evangel shuts out Hope for ACSC softball title

Evangel's Jessyca Ray pitched a two-hit shutout against Hope April 23. (Reporter Photo/Drew Granthum)

Evangel’s Jessyca Ray pitched a two-hit shutout against Hope April 23. (Reporter Photo/Drew Granthum)

By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Writer

ALABASTER— There’s a first time for everything. Even championships.

The Evangel Christian Lightning softball team took it first-ever ASCS championship with a dominating performance over rival Hope Christian April 23. The Lightning took a 15-0 win en route to the title.

Pitcher Jessyca Ray (one of two seniors recognized before the contest; Jordan Swindle was the other) set the tone early, retiring the first three Hope batters in order in the top of the first. The Lightning loaded the bases in the bottom of the first, bringing three runs across in the inning to take a 3-0 lead.

Ray continued her dominance in the top of the second, allowing only a double by Sarah Birdsong. The Eagles left Birdsong stranded, and the Lightning held the shutout headed into the bottom of the inning.

In the bottom of the second, Hope pitcher Ciera Shoemaker held the Lightning at bay, retiring the side in order.

Hope again went three up, three down in the top of the third, and Evangel took advantage in the bottom half.

The Lightning exploded on offense, scoring 10 runs in the third alone to take a 13-0 lead.

Hope was unable to convert a Samantha Rowley triple in the top of the fourth into a run, and Evangel held onto the 13-0 lead.

In the bottom of the inning Evangel added two more runs, increasing the lead to 15-0, ending the ball game.

“I don’t know what to say,” ECS head coach Lynn Ray said. “We’ve been working really hard on the girls staying back (and waiting on the pitch). For us, it’s awesome because it’s the conference championship. This is the first year we’ve ever been able to be state champs. For us, this is phenomenal.”

Ray and Victoria Caballero led the Lightning offensively, with Ray going 3-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Caballero went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and three RBIs.

On the mound, Ray went all four innings, giving up no runs on two hits while striking out four.