A bond between a pitcher and catcher is key in any team's success.
Cannon pitcher Mackenzie Moyer and catcher Julie Harriss didn't have to work to build a connection on the field. They've been good friends for years, which has helped the Cougars to a strong start.
After an accident on Lake Norman in June 2006, in which Mackenzie broke her femur after the personal watercraft the two were riding turned on its side, the duo has been nearly inseparable.
"We were friends before, but it made us tighter," Julie said.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
Julie, now a senior, stayed by Mackenzie as first responders awaited nearly an hour for the right boat to take the then-12-year-old out of the water. The two also spent countless hours together that summer as Mackenzie recuperated.
Cannon softball coach Pat Moyer, Mackenzie's father, said he's proud of how the girls turned the accident into something positive.
"They're almost like sisters because they went through that," he said. "It's amazing and powerful that you can go through something like that and come out stronger if you have the right attitude."
The trust Mackenzie and Julie have developed on each other has also paid off in the softball diamond, where they've grown into all-state players.
"I can tell Mackenzie anything and she listens, and she can tell me anything and I'll listen," said Julie. "We would never do anything to hurt each other."
Julie is one of the top offensive players on the team, having 17 RBIs and hitting .432 on the season.
Moyer credits her success on her aggressiveness and strong will to win.
"Julie's all out," he said. "We could be winning by 10 runs and she's going in head-first for a slide."
Mackenzie explained that her friend is also consistent behind the plate, where she admits she's able to get calls for her.
"No matter where I throw it, I know she's going to catch it," the junior said. "Playing with her makes me better because she can see things in me that I don't really notice."
Mackenzie is having a standout year from the mound, recording a 1.75 ERA and 80 strike outs in her first 60 innings of work..
"She's very calm; she's even-keeled," said her father. "You know what you're getting every day in practice and in games. She's going to come and give you 100 percent."
That has also translated to her offensive game, as Mackenzie is leading the team with her .575 batting average and 25 RBIs.
Moyer admits having an all-state pitcher/catcher duo was comforting coming into the season, despite losing all-state pitcher Taylor Dicken to graduation.
"You can build your team around that," he said.
Cannon's goal was to outperform last year's 10-9 team that reached the second round of the NCISAA 3A playoffs.
But they knew it'd be a tough road, having a young and inexperienced group with many of the girls are playing softball for the first time this year.
Moyer said that's where Mackenzie and Julie's leadership and experience has come up big.
"They want to make the girls better," he said. "The game is important to them, but equally important is to make sure their teammates are having fun and have success to help the team."
The Cougars have had a good season, winning 11 of its first 13 games on their way to a No. 1 rank among 3A private schools, who Cannon's undefeated against.
As the team readies for its second go-around in the CISAA, they hope to finish strong to claim a No. 1 seed in the NCISAA 3A playoffs.
Moyer said his team needs to stay focused in the last week of the regular season.
"Anything can happen, anybody can beat you," he said. "I'm not going to get my hopes up, but I'm excited about what they've accomplished."
Moyer said if his team plays with consistency, confidence and has fun on the field they have a chance to contend for a state title.
His daughter said the team needs to stay hungry to do so.
"We can't be satisfied with where we are," Mackenzie said. "I think everybody on this team knows it's going to take a lot of work."