Coach Pat Moyer envisioned a five-year plan, he said, when Cannon School fielded its first softball team in 2007. But the plan never included a state championship.
Instead, Moyer said, he wanted to measure his players' progress in three ways: by how much they cared for each other on and off the field, by their level of confidence and integrity, and by how much fun they had.
Though the word "winning" never entered the equation, it became the sum when the Cougars captured the Independent 3A state championship May 21. Cannon defeated High Point Christian 5-1 in the final game.
Cannon (19-2 overall) opened the eight-team playoff with a 15-0 home victory over Charlotte Country Day May 17. That placed the Cougars in the final four May 20-21 at North Raleigh Christian.
In the second round, Stephanie Gray pitched a solid game as Cannon turned back Charlotte Latin 4-3.
In the winner's bracket, Cannon won 3-0 over High Point Christian, a second-round winner over five-time defending state champion Hickory Grove Baptist.
High Point Christian advanced to the final day with a loser's-bracket win over Charlotte Latin. High Point would have to beat Cannon twice to win the championship; Cannon needed to secure just one more victory.
For the second straight game, senior catcher Julie Harriss, who finished the season with a team-best six home runs, led off with a round-tripper.
"People ask why I have my best home run hitter batting leadoff," Moyer said. "I say, 'Because I like to go up 1-0.'"
Cannon added two runs in the fifth inning when Emma Virtanen led off with a single and moved to second on Allie Gray's sacrifice bunt. Ally Reynolds drove in Virtanen with a double, and Chantel Neuwald plated Reynolds with a single.
McKenzie Moyer, who notched her second pitching victory of the playoffs, drove in the final two runs in the sixth with a homer.
Pat Moyer also credited centerfielder Jessica Randolph for tracking down and hauling in a couple of potential home runs at the fence in each of the two games against High Point Christian.
Harriss was named to her third all-state team, while McKenzie Moyer received that honor for the second year.
The Cougars will graduate three seniors and will lose two other players who were foreign exchange students.