Nacogdoches Central Heights girls drive their way into the finals

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRE) - Savannah Martin and Leslie Penick had four hits each to tie a Class 2A record as Nacogdoches Central Heights slammed Wall 17-3 in state semifinal action in Austin.

Wall (32-7-1) led 2-0 after two innings, but Central Heights (25-16) exploded for 17 runs over the next three innings to set a Class 2A record for runs by the winning team. The 20 total runs also set a record.

Winning pitcher Chandler McCarthy added three hits while pitching five innings, striking out four and scattering seven hits.

Lady Devils Coach Iyhia McMichael calls the journey here amazing.  "It's amazing because the journey has been so long and the struggles and the connectivity that we have now is what we've been talking about.  I've been trying to achieve the whole year.  So, to finally get here and to have the girls work this hard and come together as such a cohesive unit is something that's amazing," said Coach McMichael.

The Lady Devils have much respect for the coach.  They know she has walked in their shoes and has their best interest at heart.  "She knows what she's doing for sure.  She's given us a lot of encouragement, lots of words of wisdom.  She's definitely a vital asset who's helped us get here along the way," said Emberlen Binford, Central Heights Right Fielder.

You will find in McMichael's personal profile that she is a superstar in her own right.  Her profile states:

"McMichael is a two-time National Pro Fastpitch All-Star and helped lead the Akron Racers to the 2005 NPF Championship. She hit the game-winning home run in the eighth inning of the championship game to lift the Racers to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory over the Chicago Bandits for the NPF title. McMichael was also the MVP of the 2005 NPF All-Star Game, after she hit a two-run homer to lead the East team to a 2-1 victory over the West.

The Nacogdoches, Texas, native was a first-team Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American in 2003 and 2004. McMichael also earned NFCA All-South Region honors three times, including first-team accolades in 2003 and 2004. She was named the Southeastern Conference Softball Athlete of the Year in both 2003 and 2004. In addition to capturing first-team All-SEC honors three times, she was also a second-team pick in 2001."

When asked to describe her coaching style, McMichael said her life experiences were a big part of it.  "I've had great players that I've played with and coaches and I use quotes.  I get inspired by quotes.  Every time I can use a quote to inspire them and bring that experience that I have is something that I've been doing throughout the whole year.  I just try to pass on my knowledge to them," told KTRE.

McMichael's coaching combined with the team's hard work is proving to be a winning combination.

Central Heights will face top-ranked Danbury in the 11 a.m. Saturday Class 2A state softball finals in Austin. Central Heights has won 18 of their last 20 games after starting the season with a 7-14 record.

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