Lady Eagles refocus after ‘good loss’

BY DONNELL COLEY
Sports editor
Posted 3/29/22

CFCA softball representatives give an update on team morale following its first conference loss since 2019.

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Lady Eagles refocus after ‘good loss’

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FAYETTEVILLE — Rhyleigh Horne hasn’t needed many postgame pep talks with her Cape Fear Christian Academy softball teammates the past three seasons.

The Lady Eagles junior already boasts a North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association 1A state championship ring, and saw the squad take a runner-up finish last year.

CFCA went undefeated through NCISAA Sandhills Conference play in 2021, claiming the league title for the first time. Though that mark won’t be matched again this season following the 2-1 loss at Freedom Christian Academy on Friday, Horne was still encouraged. 

“It was great to see that we don’t ever give up, that we fought through it no matter what,” said the reigning All-Record Softball Team Two-way Player of the Year

“We still played together and not one person took it upon themselves.”

CFCA (7-3-1, 3-1) has lit up the scoreboard in 2022, outpacing opponents 113-24. Though Horne hasn’t replicated the success that saw her return as the team’s leading hitter, she still tops the group with 18 RBIs and six doubles.

“Coming off last season, I was confident about everything and I knew I had a team to help me out, too,” Horne said.

“This year we needed to be a team and work together. Everyone has to do their own job and I think we have definitely been doing that.”

Though Horne was one of five Lady Eagles with multiple strikeouts Friday, the starting second baseman praised the defense behind ace Claire Parker in holding FCA (9-0, 3-0) to just four hits. Horne had a fielding percentage above .900 as a sophomore infielder and is currently one of three CFCA players with a perfect 1.000 mark.

Lady Eagles coach Sterling Holmes echoed some of the same positive sentiments regarding their overall defense, having dropped a conference matchup for the first time since 2019.

“It’s a good experience. It’s definitely the best pitcher we’ve faced all year,” Holmes said of FCA ace Rylan Miller, who extended her league-leading strikeout total by fanning 14 of his batters.

“I feel like the girls are there. They’ll learn a lot from this. This is what I call a good loss, if there is such a thing.”

He added that his group hadn’t seen many pitchers with elite speed and movement, which took a while to adjust to.

A hard-hit ground ball from Kim Bordeaux in the fourth inning brought home Mariah Bell for the team’s first score, knotting things at 1.

CFCA was held in check until the sixth when Cailee Ray singled, then eventually stole second and third to set up the tying run. But Ray was held on third after two strikeouts and Bordeaux’s fly out, leaving the Lady Eagles with a 2-1 deficit.

Horne says the postgame mood was far from deflated and that her teammates understood how to achieve better results when they host FCA in the league finale on April 26.

“We just need to get the ball on the bats more. ... Just rally and get hits at the right time,” she said.        

Donnell Coley can be reached at dcoley@mydailyrecord.com or 910-230-2040. 

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