Eastern Alamance star pitcher Kenna Raye Dark may not have been able to lead the Eagles to back-to-back state championships this spring, as she and her EAHS teammates initially intended. But despite the loss of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dark received one of the top accolades a prep player can receive in the state of North Carolina, as she received the Gatorade Player of the Year Award as the state’s top softball player.
“It feels amazing. I’ve been working so hard for this accomplishment for a long time,” said Dark, who posted a 5-1 record with a 2.03 ERA in Eastern’s six games played before the season cancellation. Dark added two home runs, eight RBIs and a .524 batting average at the plate, and struck out 43 batters in just 31 innings, with only four walks.
Naturally, Dark and her teammates were crushed when they heard they weren’t going to be able to complete the season. But with two more seasons of eligibility remaining with the Eagles in 2021 and 2022, Dark is still hopeful to bring another state title to Mebane before her high school days are over.
“We were very disappointed when we heard that the season was going to be cancelled,” Dark said. “Everybody was crying. We were all posting pictures about how we missed softball. All we did was just talk about how we wanted to go back-to-back. When we get back, we’re definitely going to try to get back to that position.”
Eastern is losing three key players, including one of Dark’s closest friends - North Carolina Central-bound catcher Hailey Batista. But despite the loss of the team’s defensive core at catcher and one of the team’s top veterans, Dark is looking forward to stepping up herself as a leader heading into her junior season.
“We lost three players, and they were very crucial to us. But it’s okay, because we’re going to try to come back next year. We’re going to definitely work hard during the next season every day in practice. We’re going to work hard,” Dark explained. “One thing, we are a team. And we’ve never had any drama. We all love each and every person on this team. And they have motivated me a lot, and they have helped me get to where I am now. Being the amazing teammates that they are, they’ve helped me a lot, and I appreciate that.”
Individually, Dark is looking to continue working on her physical training to stay in top shape for when she does return to the mound in the Eagle green and gold.
“I’m going to keep conditioning, keep working, keep going to my pitching and hitting coach, and keep doing the things I need to do to win another state championship,” she said.