Monte Sherrill is used to winning nearly every time his softball teams take the field.
In 24 years at the helm, the Alexander Central softball coach has won 689 games and lost only 59, winning a startling 92 percent of his games including nine state championships (two at Central Cabarrus) in that span.
But even as he prepares to defend his latest 4A title run – his 2013 Alexander Central team went 33-1 last year while finishing the season as USAToday No. 4 in the nation – his own daughters Bailey (a senior) and Vada Blue (junior), who now play for him, give him a great perspective of his accomplishments.
“My daughters look at my record and ask me ‘When did you lose all those games?’ ” said Monte Sherrill, referring to the 59 losses in 24 years. “I have to laugh. But really it’s amazing how well we’ve done all these years. It all comes back to work ethic. Our kids go hard every practice, every game, everything we do. Sometimes practice is more competitive than our games. We’ve created this tradition, this monster, and everyone wants to be a part of it.”
Sherrill and Co. begin their quest for the school’s ninth state title this season with nearly their entire lineup back, where every starter has a college offer or has already signed to play at the next level.
Reigning Charlotte Observer player of the year and all-state shortstop Taylor Wike, who has signed to play at North Carolina, sets the tone at the top of lineup as she hit .568 with eight home runs and 43 RBI last year.
Meanwhile, junior Vada Blue Sherrill, who plays second base, comes up next, as she hit .400 and has interest from multiple Division I schools, including several in the SEC.
Wike and Sherrill, two of the Cougars’ seven all-state players, wreak havoc on opposing defenses as they are almost always on base, combining for 110 hits and 91 runs last year.
The rest of the Cougar lineup is just as good, as junior Bailey Rhoney (all-state) has a 26-game hit streak going into the season. Clean-up Averi Miller (Lenoir Rhyne signee, all-state) had 44 hits last year, senior Amanda Sports (King University signee, all-state), junior Kiana Millsaps (ace pitcher, all-state), senior Bailey Sherrill, junior Christina Krider, senior Mia Blochaviak (Erskine signee, all-state) and sophomore Tianna Batts (University of Tennessee commit) round out a loaded group.
“We don’t have any weak hitters,” Coach Sherrill said. “Every girl is constantly motivated and working hard, because they know if you slip just a little, somebody is probably waiting to take their spot.”
While the Alexander Central offense averaged more than 10 runs per game, the defense is stingy, allowing only 1.5 runs per contest.
Millsaps (24-0) was dominant on the mound, allowing only 18 runs in 139 innings with a 0.91 ERA. Rhoney was named state championship Most Valuable Player after tossing a three-hitter in the title-clinching win over Wake Forest Rolesville.
The team also benefits from unbelievable support from the town of Taylorsville, where it is no surprise to see several hundred fans at a regular season home game and over 1,000 fans at many home playoff games, according to Sherrill.
“The whole town is behind this team every year and that helps us a lot,” said Sherrill, noting a group of fans, etc. helped clear nine inches of snow off the softball field on Valentine’s Day so the team could practice. “They say Maiden is the biggest little football town in the world. I think we are the biggest little softball town in the world.”
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