Alabama Christian’s Caitlin Perry has claimed just about every honor imaginable in her storied career. Except for one, a state championship.
Perry led the Eagles to back-to-back runner-up finishes the past two years, but wants to end her career on top.
ACA plays Lawrence County in the Class 5A state tournament at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.
“Being a senior, it feels like there’s a little more drive to want to win it,” Perry said. “Just wanting to finish it by not being runner-up again.”
A two-time Advertiser All-Metro Player of the Year and a Faulkner signee, Perry’s numbers rank in the all-time caliber for her career. She’s the school’s all-time leader with 119 wins and has struck out 1,116 batters in 912 innings.
ACA reached the state tournament for the 19th straight year and is going for a ninth championship, which would be the most in state history. Perry doesn’t pay much attention to her individual statistics, but she couldn’t ignore the milestones she hit this year.
“We were playing in a home game and they announced my 1,000th strikeout, and it just hit me,” Perry said. “I didn’t realize I had that many strikeouts. And then my wins too, it just doesn’t feel like it’s been that much because you’re having fun.”
Pitching in big games since she was in eighth grade, ACA coach Chris Goodman said he can tell how much this final run means to her.
“I think she’s really hungry to win one. She’d be in one of the few classes to come out of here without a championship ring,” Goodman said. “So I think she’s very focused, I’m looking forward to watching her play this weekend.”
As Perry’s career has progressed, Goodman has let off the reigns. Now when he calls pitches, it’s all fun and games.
“It’s like playing a video game some times. You just sit over there and call the pitches and see what happens,” Goodman said. “We can go to all corners of the plate at any time we want to, change speeds, so it’s really hard to focus. You don’t have any one thing you can focus on with her. A lot of pitchers have one or two pitches, she’s got six.”
The championship banners in the outfield and pictures in the gym remind Perry every day of where the Eagles have set the bar. After a slow start to the season, she said blocking out the past helped ACA turn the corner.
“Our season, we started a little rough. We didn’t think we were going to make it. But we came together as a team,” Perry said. “We started to play as a team, and we weren’t looking on the past years and comparing ourselves. We needed to be us, not being like, ‘You have to get to state because we have so many years.’ But we were just doing it for us.”