GREENSBORO – Mya Grace, this one was for you.
Enka softball players dabbed away tears Saturday as one of their youngest fans was brought onto the field prior to Game 2 of the NCHSAA 3-A championship series at UNC Greensboro.
Some onlookers wondered aloud what it was all about. The Sugar Jets (26-3) knew, and had all the motivation they needed.
Mars Hill recruit Addison Harris’ three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning closed the door on a 5-3 win over C.B. Aycock and a sweep in the best-of-three series.
Western North Carolina’s first back-to-back NCHSAA softball champ in 16 years got a lift from the presence of Mya Grace Phillips. She is a first grader from the Hominy Valley who is battling Burkitt lymphoma.
Enka players signed a ball Saturday for Mya Grace and personally gave her a tie-dyed T-shirt that matched the ones they wore in Greensboro. Mya Grace was wearing a protective mask to shield her from germs at UNCG.
“There really aren’t words to explain it,” said Harris, a senior first baseman who was named the most valuable player of the 3-A state series.
“(Mya Grace) is my hero for everything that she’s going through. She is incredible.”
Mya Grace was first diagnosed with a form of cancer last fall. Her parents, Logan (2000) and Kelly (2001), are both Enka graduates. #TeamMyaGrace has become a local hashtag on Twitter and there have been numerous area fundraisers held in the child’s honor.
“She is fighting right now, and it makes all of us want to fight harder,” Enka senior pitcher Courtney Pearson said.
“It was so great to have her here.”
Pearson (21-1) pitched her second complete-game win in less than 48 hours Saturday. The Queens recruit won about 70 games in her varsity career. Sugar Jets coach Jennifer Kruk can’t imagine any pitcher in the program’s past can say as much.
“Courtney was just a horse,” Kruk said.
“Not only today, but all season long. She knew that we were really going to lean on her this year. She came through every time we needed her. We never put this team in a comfortable situation with our schedule. It was all about challenging ourselves and seeing who would step up.”
Harris was 3-for-4 Saturday with all three of her RBIs coming off the home run that pinged off the UNCG scoreboard in right-center field.
“I would have loved to have seen how far that ball had gone without the scoreboard there,” Kruk said.
Kloyee Anderson, a sophomore who has committed to Alabama, was 2-4 with two runs scored. Danielle Harris went 2-2 with a pair of singles. Payton Trantham was 1-2 with a run scored.
Texas Woman’s recruit Brittany Fletcher had a hit in one of her two at-bats and made several good defensive stops for Enka in center field.
The Sugar Jets will lose four seniors to graduation — Fletcher, Harris, Pearson and Shruti Patel. That group only lost to one North Carolina team (Greenville’s D.H. Conley) in the past two years.
Owen (1999 and 2000 in 2-A) was previously the last mountain softball program to enjoy back-to-back state championships in NCHSAA play.