Warriors advance to KCAA title game

Bryan Edwards | Kentucky New Era

Heritage Christian Academy pitcher Trenton Hayes pitches during thr Warriors win over Cornerstone Christian Academy on Friday.

The Heritage Christian Academy Warriors have put themselves in a position to do something they haven't done in nine years.

HCA took care of business Friday, defeating Cornerstone Christian Academy, 16-8, to advance to the Kentucky Christian Athletic Association State Championship game.

Although the result is what head coach Darryl Crawford wanted, it didn't come easily at first. He said although it was tougher, it was good to see his kids have to handle some adversity in the game.

"It was good for us that in the first inning Trenton Hayes just didn't have it," Crawford said. "He wasn't throwing the ball as hard as he usually does. They started hitting the ball well and scored a few runs ... Our guys, I loved that they didn't lose sight of where they were. They just kept battling back. I loved their perseverance."

CCA jumped out early in the game, as it scored three runs in the first frame on Hayes, who is just a freshman. The Warriors answered with two runs in the bottom half.

However, Hayes settled in after that, as he didn't allow a run in the remainder of his outing.

Crawford said it was good to see the freshman bounce back from his tough first inning.

"My intention was to throw Trenton 30 to 40 pitches and then just

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rotate our pitchers in," he said. "But it seemed like after 30 or 40 pitches, Trenton started getting into his groove. Then we went on to just let him pitch and we took him out after we got a bigger lead."

As the innings went, so did the Warriors.

Up 4-3 in the bottom of the third inning, HCA poured in five runs to increase its lead. From there, it cruised to the semifinal victory.

Crawford said he was very happy with his team's hitting with two strikes in the win.

"I loved our two-strike hitting," Crawford said. "Several guys were up there and had some swings. They were missing the home run cuts, then they'd shorten their swings with two strikes and put the ball in play. Good things happen when you put the ball in play."

The win puts the Warriors one win away from their first KCAA State Championship since 2010, but to win it, they will have to defeat a team that has won the last three.

HCA will have to take on Highlands Latin School, who is undefeated on the season.

Heading into this afternoon's contest, the head coach is confident in his team.

"I like our guys' mentality right now -- I think they're confident," he said. "I think you have to be confident when you play a team like Highlands because they're going to be good (and they) know how to win. It's going to be very important that our gloves are gold. If they are, I like our hitting against them. We'll see what happens."

The two teams faced off on May 18, where Highlands took home a 10-5 win over HCA. Crawford said his team had a 5-0 lead in that game, but let it slip.

"It seemed like our guys let off the gas a little bit (in that game)," Crawford said. "Then we made a couple of errors and mentally we broke down ... I hope they really believe they can win tomorrow."

HCA and Highlands will face off at 4 p.m.

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