Evangel baseball and softball end impressive seasons

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

A strong season for both the Evangel Christian Lightning baseball and softball teams recently came to an end, but not before some fireworks led to an exciting run at a state championship and even a national championship.

Both teams ended up playing host to the ACSC State Championship tournament at the Evangel Sports Complex May 4-5, before the baseball team eventually finished as runner-up to Ezekiel Academy in the championship game and the softball team finished as runner-up to the Tuscaloosa Home Educators.

For the softball team, it was just a one-run loss and runner-up finish in the ACSC State Championship that gave the team a sense of pride to end the season, but also the chance to compete for an NACA National Championship the very next week.

After the state tournament came to an end, the Lightning hit the road to Dayton, Tennessee, to take part in the national tournament and did not disappoint early on.

Evangel was able to win its first two games of the tourney by a combined 25-3 taking down Dallas HSAA Blue 16-0 in game one and Nansemond-Suffolk Academy 9-3 in the second game.

The Lightning finished off day one of the tournament with their first loss by a final of 9-4 against Kings Academy.

At the completion of the first day of the tournament, Ivie Littleton had gone a combined 5-for-10 with six RBIs, Anna Donegan had gone 2-for-5 with three RBIs, Lola Jarrad had gone 3-for-6 with seven RBIs, Susie Landis had gone 3-for-8 with three RBIs and Kaylee Fowler had a 3-for-3 game against Kings Academy.

Evangel came back the next morning and kept clicking offensively taking down United 13-2 to start the day before getting redemption against Kings Academy later in the morning with a 9-6 victory to advance to the semifinals of the tournament.

In the 13-2 win against United, the Lightning were led by Anna Vaughn and Jarrad. Both went 4-for-5 in the game with two RBIs apiece. Chloe Thornton went 2-for-5 and had two RBis as well, while Littleton added a 2-for-5 game with two runs scored. Avrie Ponder only picked up one hit in the game, but had three RBIs.

In the redemption win against Kings Academy, Evangel was led by Vaughn again, who went 3-for-3 with two RBIs. Jarrad went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Littleton added two RBIs as well.

The two wins propelled the Lightning into the semifinals the following morning, Friday, May 11, but they ran into a good Fort Worth THESA team that was able to use a seven-run second inning to win by a final of 8-3 to end Evangel’s bid at a championship.

Nonetheless, it was a special way to cap off a special season for the Lightning, who cemented themselves as one of the best in the country.

For the baseball team, it was also a special season as first-year head coach Tim Smith led the team to an impressive 27-11 record and a state runner-up finish.

In the state tournament, Evangel started with a dominant effort against Lyman Ward Military Academy taking the first game of the tourney by a final score of 11-1.

The pitching combination of Brandon Hines, Matt Sides and Dawson Humphries was a big reason for that success as they allowed just two hits and one run in the game, while striking out eight.

At the plate, Hines led the way with a 2-for-3 performance that included four RBIs, while Tyler Henderson went 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Weston Akin and Will Ferrell both went 2-for-3 with two runs scored.

The Lightning followed that win with a tough one-run 3-2 loss to Ezekiel in the next round of the tournament after Ezekiel picked up a one-out walk-off single to center field to take the game.

Evangel was able to bounce back with another dominant win in a must-win game later that afternoon. With a 14-1 win, the Lightning clinched a spot in the championship where they would face Ezekiel in a rematch.

In the 14-1 victory, the Lightning were led by Seth Harrison, who went 2-for-2 with four RBIs, Chase Jones added a 1-for-3 game with three RBIs. Jay Underwood also had multiple RBIs after adding two thanks to a 1-for-1 game at the plate.

Humphries added a complete-game effort on the mound allowing just one run and striking out two.

The kryptonite of Ezekiel, however, came back to get Evangel again in the championship game as the Lightning fell by a final of 7-2.

Like the softball team, it was the end of an impressive season as the Lightning will now build off of the confident year heading into the 2019 season.