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Lady Cougars set new state record with 84th straight win

(Updated Apr. 22, 9:53 am)

Lady Cougars set new state
record with 84th straight win

    Alexander Central’s Softball Program added its name to another line in the North Carolina High School record book on Tuesday, April 21, when the team grabbed its 84th straight win to set a new state mark for consecutive wins.

    One of the most dominant programs in NC prep history simply added to its stellar history with a pair of wins over South Iredell and North Iredell to tie and break the state mark for victories consecutively.
    The team picked up its 83rd win in a row on Friday, April 17, with a 12-0 home victory over South Iredell at Central Park. The win over the Lady Vikings evened the wins mark set by Central Cabarrus in 2007.

    The record-breaking win came on Tuesday when the Lady Cougars blanked West Iredell 10-0 for number 84.
    Alexander Central Coach Monte Sherrill has enjoyed a front row seat for both streaks. Sherrill coached Central Cabarrus to a pair of state titles during his tenure at the school and led the Vikings to the 83-game win streak which ended in 2007. Sherrill’s stay at Central also ended in 2007 when the Hiddenite native returned to Taylorsville for his second tour as Cougar coach.
    Since returning to the dugout in 2008, Sherrill has led the Cougars to state titles in 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2014. The team’s current win streak started in 2013 following an early season 5-4 loss at St. Stephens. That setback, the last one for the Cougars, came on March 4, 2013.

“Wow, 84 games in a row is a long, long road to travel. I am so proud of our players and assistant coaches. We are a blue collar team representing a blue collar town and our kids bring there ‘A’ game to practice and games every day. I am confident this streak will never be broken,” Coach Sherrill said Tuesday night. “It’s been 10 years and no one has even had a streak over like 40. When you sit back and really look at the streak, you have to appreciate the intensity our players play with and the pressure they excel under. I am proud to be from Alexander County and so proud to hear our kids yell, “We are AC.”

     During the current run, ACHS has scored an astonishing 934 runs, while allowing just 91 runs. Exactly half of the 84 wins have come via the shutout. Cougar pitchers had tossed 42 shutouts over the stretch. The 84th win ties Alexander Central for the fourth longest win streak in US history. The current record of 112 straight wins is held by Vanderbilt Catholic High School in Louisiana. That mark has stood since 1983.

    Coach Sherrill isn’t the only member of the ACHS program with close ties to both win streaks. First-year assistant coach and history teacher at ACHS, Tara Hajer, was a player for Central Cabarrus during the team’s historic run in 2007. Hajer, who later moved to the Wittenburg Community and played for Alexander’s 2009 state title team, joined Coach Sherrill’s staff this season after graduating from Appalachian State University.

    “Playing during the first streak was a whirlwind. We didn’t pay attention to the number, we were just focusing on winning each individual game.  I remember Coach Sherrill having us all lay down out in left field and telling us about the record and that we were ranked #1 in the nation and just feeling an overwhelming sense of pride.  We could have ran 300 poles that day and no one would have cared; we were on cloud nine,” Hajer said. “Coaching in this second streak is definitely more stressful,  but also more fulfilling. As a player, you’re in the game and your concentration is playing your best. As a coach, you’re focusing on every little detail and making sure 25 girls are playing their best. It’s more rewarding because you witness how hard these girls work in practice, and you get to celebrate their successes with them.”

    She continued “I always thought I would be upset if the record was broken, but I could not be happier. This is an awesome group of girls and I am so proud of them. There is not a more deserving team. It was awesome to be a part of one record streak, but to be involved in two is an unbelievable experience. It has been a blessing, and I am so excited to see what new records we can set. We are AC.”

    Cougar pitcher Kiana Millsaps has been front and center in a huge number of the ACHS wins. Last Friday, Millsaps tossed a two-hit shutout in the team’s 12-0 win over South Iredell at Central Park. She allowed just one hit and struck out five in Tuesday’s 10-0 victory over West.

    With the two wins in the circle, Millsaps improved to 18-0 this season and ran her overall, career record to 60-0. She is currently second on the state record list for consecutive pitching wins. Gina Allen of Central Cabarruns owns the mark with 76 straight wins.

    In addition to the strong pitching, the Cougar hitting did not miss a beat in the historic wins for the program.

    Against South Iredell, the Cougars exploded for 16 hits. Millsaps and Vada Sherrill tallied three hits apiece, while Millsaps blasted a home run.

    Tianna Batts, Makenzie Pennell, Makayla Shore, and Caroline Maltba added two hits each in the win.

    On Tuesday, Alexander chalked up a dozen hits led by catcher Makenzie Pennell. Pennell finished the game with three hits and closed out the record-setting day with a walk-off home run in the fifth frame to end the game via the 10-run rule.

    Batts, Maltba, and Chelsea Krider paired hits for Alexander in Tuesday’s victory.

    With the new record in hand, the Cougars will face one of their toughest tasks of the season this evening when the team travels to Mooresville to face league foe Lake Norman at 6 pm. Earlier this season, Alexander downed Lake Norman 1-0 in a pitchers’ duel in Taylorsville.

ROLLING ALONG - Senior pitcher Kiana Millsaps fires the ball to first base to record an out against South Iredell last Friday at Central Park. Millsaps picked up pitching wins against South and West Iredell to run her season record to 18-0 and career record to 60-0.

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