University City

Cougars wrap up 17-game streak with state championship

UNC Charlotte physics professor Patrick Moyer knows all about the laws of nature.

But it is still hard for Moyer, also the Cannon varsity softball coach, to explain what has happened to his Cougar team over the past few months.

Cannon (19-2) won 17 straight games since late March, capping the streak with a two-game sweep of High Point Christian to win the NCISAA 3A state championship May 21.

"We thought we could compete with the best teams in the state and get to the Final Four," said Moyer. "But we never talked about championships. I don't think coaches ever plan on winning 17 games in a row."

A lot of the Cougars' success came from the dynamic duo of senior catcher Julie Harriss and junior pitcher Mackenzie Moyer.

Harriss, who has signed with Radford University, hit .483 with six home runs and 28 RBI on the season. Harriss' battery mate, Moyer, batted .569 with four home runs and 40 RBI, while going 16-2 on the mound with 155 strikeouts and a 1.39 ERA.

Harriss and Moyer, who are close friends on and off the field, regularly competed to see who was the best at every aspect of the game.

"Julie and Kenzie would hit like 20 home runs every day in practice and it was a great competition to watch," said the elder Moyer, who's also Mackenzie's father. "I think the other girls wanted to be just as good as them, to hit the ball just as hard, made everybody a better player."

The Cougars were hardly a two-player team, as another duo in senior twins Ally and Courtney Reynolds, who play second and third base respectively, were also big at the plate and in the field. Junior Stephanie Gray also had a good year at the plate, hitting .431 with 26 RBIs.

"In the beginning of the season, we knew we had a lot of talent and athletes," Harriss said. "At first, it was a little rough, but we really found ourselves."

Cannon played a tough schedule that included a sweep of the always tough CISAA conference.

But no matter what they did in regular season, the Cougars knew they would ultimately be judged by their postseason performance.

After beating Country Day 15-0 in the first round of the playoffs, the Cannon softball team ran into an obstacle as they prepared to face rival Charlotte Latin in the state semi finals in Raleigh. The game was scheduled only two hours after the seniors participated in Cannon's graduation.

After NCISAA officials allowed them to move the game back two hours, the seniors traveled to North Raleigh Christian after the ceremony, joining their teammates an hour before game time.

"It was really tough to transition between the emotion of your high school graduation to a playoff game," said Harriss. "The first game was tough. I don't think we were in the right mindset."

Despite the emotions, the Cougars defeated Latin in a tight 4-3 game to move onto the next round of the double-elimination tournament.

That same night, against High Point Christian, Moyer tossed a four-hit complete game shutout while Harriss smacked a first-inning home run to give the Cougars all they needed to win.

"I knew it was going to be a long day and a long weekend," said Harriss. "But in the second game that night we came out like a completely different team. After we won that game, I knew we were going to win it all."

The next day, the Cougars wasted no time against High Point Christian, as Harriss again crushed a first-inning home run to give her team a lead they would never relinquish.

After High Point Christian closed to 3-1, Moyer closed the door in the bottom of the fifth, this time at the plate, hitting a two-run homer to the left field fence for a 5-1 advantage and a state title.

It was a remarkable ending to the Cannon winning streak.

"I didn't even know we had won 17 straight games," said Harriss.

"I kept saying, 'We're not losing again this season,' and we just kept on winning."