The Stanford Middle School softball team’s first Orange-Person Athletic Conference Championship since 2014 wasn’t filled with drama. It was total dominance.
The Chargers defeated Culbreth Middle School 16-1 in three innings on May 10 at Stanford Baseball Field for the OPAC title. After Serenity McPherson led off with a walk in the bottom of the first inning, shortstop Kaitlyn Florence raced around the bases for a inside the park home run after she lifted a ball to centerfield.
McPherson, Caden Robinson and Chloe Carmichael all added inside the park home runs for the Chargers, who finished the season a perfect 12-0. Robinson took the win in the circle.
Stanford’s first-year head coach, Johnny Barefoot, was an assistant on Cedar Ridge’s 2018 Big 8 Conference Championship team.
“For me, coaching this team was less strenuous,” Barefoot said. “It’s fun either way because it’s softball. The way I look at it, it’s teaching the basics of softball to the kids to get to the high school level. It’s more laid-back teaching.”
Thursday’s championship game victory completed a dominant run through the season where the Chargers outscored opposition 205-9.
In order to reach the OPAC Championship game, Stanford had to win the Southern Division championship first. Southern Roxboro was the biggest hurdle in front of the Chargers, which led to its tightest games. On April 9 in Roxboro, Stanford led 3-1 going into the top of the sixth inning before pushing three runs across to win 6-1.
In the rematch in Hillsborough on April 29, the Chargers held on to win 3-1 to clinch the division championship.
“I won’t lie,” Barefoot said. “I believe we could have played a high school team and either hung with them or beat them. This team was real good. I was shocked at the talent I actually had. When this whole bunch gets to high school, they’ll be a hand full. They’ll run with them.”
Kelsey Thackett, Savannah Wynne, Brianne Foster, Kimber Shambley Savannah Knight and Bree Harris also started for the Chargers in Thursday’s championship game.
Also on Thursday night, the Stanford baseball team searched for its fifth OPAC Championship in six years. Instead, the Smith Middle School Cyclones captured its second consecutive OPAC Championship, beating the Chargers 11-1 in five innings.
The Cyclones broke the game open after a three-run homer from right fielder Spencer Boatwright in the 3rd inning.
The Chargers’ only run came in the 2nd inning. Catcher David Wiatt was hit by a pitch. After stealing 2nd, Wiatt went to third base following a sacrifice bunt from Cross Clayton. Wiatt scored off a wild pitch.
Smith jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the 2nd inning. Pitcher Shad Alban, who allowed only three hits, snapped a Baltimore chop over the head of the third baseman all the way to the wall. The hit scored Roberts and Alban rounded the bases to complete the inning.
Smith added three more runs in the 3rd to take a 6-1 lead. William Staats, Tyler Stillson and Thomas Roberts all scored for the Cyclones.
Stanford completes the season 13-2, champions of the OPAC Northern Division