Eastern Alamance High School recently brought together three of its 2021 athletic standouts, along with a special group of family and friends, for a Signing Day ceremony. The event honored EAHS women’s soccer stars Sarah Widderich and Emilyn Krans, as well as men’s golf standout Caden Baker. Widderich is taking her talents to Appalachian State, while Krans will be playing at UNC-Asheville. Baker will be a member of the golf team at UNC-Charlotte next year.
“It’s always fun to do these (signing events),” said Eastern High principal Eric Yarbrough. “Honestly, it’s just great to see people on campus. Especially students on campus. We miss this very much. We miss seeing students in the classroom, and we miss seeing them on the athletic field. But it’s great to recognize students who have been very successful - very successful - both in the classroom and on the athletic field. Congratulations Emilyn, Sarah, and Caden. We’re excited to see you guys. We know that you guys will do great things, and we look forward to watching and reading in the paper and online about your accomplishments.
“It’s crazy times that we’re in,” added Eastern High athletics director and head football coach John Kirby. “As Mr. Yarbrough said, it’s good to see people on campus, and not seeing you on a screen in a little box. I know some of our kids are having a hard time with it, and I am. We do have hope that we’ve got a season coming up. We do appreciate all that you’ve done for Eastern Alamance High School. You guys will go into the record books just doing what you do. And I hate that you’re having to go through what you’re having to go through. But we’re in unusual times right now.
“I’m excited to be here. I’m excited for you. What a beautiful day - the Lord blessed us with a beautiful day today,” Kirby continued. “This is something that you will remember for the rest of your life.
Baker, along with N.C. State bound Nicholas Mathews, helped turn Eastern Alamance’s men’s golf team into one of the top teams in the area. A member of the All-Alamance County and All-Mid-State Conference golf teams, Baker helped lead the Eagles to back-to-back NCHSAA 3A State Championship appearances in 2018 and 2019.
Baker, who committed to Charlotte back in the fall of 2019, was listed as the No. 7 high school player in North Carolina in the Class of 2021. Last April, Baker shot a 3-under-par to help lead Eastern Alamance to the Mid-State Conference men’s golf championship. He earned first-team Mid-State Conference honors in 2019.
Widderich has been the offensive catalyst of the Eagles the last three seasons, helping propel the Eagles to the Mid-State Conference title her freshman year of 2018, and helping lead the Eagles to a second place finish in 2019, along with a solid run in the NCHSAA state playoffs that culminated in a penalty kick shootout loss to eventual state champion East Chapel Hill.
In 37 career games at Eastern Alamance, Widderich scored a combined 60 goals with 41 assists. After scoring 20 goals in 17 games as a freshman in 2018, Widderich exploded her sophomore year, scoring 36 goals in 17 games to earn first-team All-Mid-State Conference honors, as well as the Mid-State Conference Offensive Player of the Year Award.
Widderich also spent time as goalkeeper for the Eagles, not allowing a goal in 98 minutes of action, including six saves and a shutout. In 2020, with their season cut short to just three games, Widderich scored four times.
Krans was also a first-team All-Mid-State Conference selection back in 2019, her sophomore season, after scoring five goals in 15 games. She added another goal as a freshman in 2018, and scored twice in three games this past spring before COVID-19 shut the season down.
Along with her offensive prowess, Krans played a key role on defense for the Eagles, helping EAHS become one of the stingiest defensive clubs in the entire region. She played 110 minutes in goal for the Eagles as a sophomore in 2019, allowing just one goal with 15 saves. She also has served as a place kicker for the EAHS varsity football team - as her older sister Eliza did earlier in the decade.
“When COVID started, I wasn’t committed anywhere. And I was kind of thinking I wasn’t going to go anywhere,” Krans said. “I was planning my next four years aside of sports - and it made me really, really sad. So to be in these difficult times and still be able to say I kept trying and I kept working, and I made a point to myself that I was going to end up going somewhere, I was really proud of myself.
“I committed over FaceTime - that says a lot about the times we’re in,” Krans continued. “It means so much that you’re here. I know I’m really appreciative, and I know everybody else is.”