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Trio of Lady Crusaders named All-State

May 24—Both the women's soccer and softball teams for Grace Christian School reached the semifinals of the NCISAA state playoffs this season. Two of the school's softball players and one of its soccer players were named All-State when the NCISAA announced the All-State teams earlier this week.

The Lady Crusader softball team played in Division II of the three-division NCISAA playoff format for this sport and advanced to the semifinals of the state tournament before coming up one run short against Gaston Christian. Grace, which finished the season at 10-8, was a very young team that did not have a single player higher than the sophomore class in its starting lineup for that game. Eighth-grader Hailey Hughes and freshman Hayley Pugh were both named to the 14-member All-State team for Division II, a level made up of 2A and 3A teams from the usual NCISAA classifications.

Hughes hit .519 (27-for-52) with 12 doubles and three home runs. She had 18 RBI and 19 runs scored for the year, and had 19 hits in her final 28 at-bats of the season, hitting .679 over Grace's last nine contests.

Pugh made All-State for the third year in a row, having also earned the honor in 2023, when the NCISAA had four classifications and she was a 2A All-State performer; and in 2022, when Grace was 1A and she was the lone Lady Crusader to make, it as a seventh-grader.

Pugh was both a top hitter and pitcher for the Lady Crusaders this season, going 3-0 with a 1.84 ERA in 13 pitching appearances, with 43 strikeouts and just six walks in 38 innings. At the plate, she hit .412 (21-for-51, with three doubles, three triples and five home runs, driving in 17 runs and scoring 21.

For the soccer team, which lost to top-seeded Cape Fear in the semifinals after earning the fourth seed in its 3A tournament debut, Sarah Meggs was named to the NCISAA 3A All-State team this week. Meggs was erroneously listed by the association as playing for a different school, but her 23 goals and 14 assists in the 2024 campaign were all compiled for the Lady Crusaders.

Meggs had at least one point in all but three of Grace's matches this season, as the Lady Crusaders posted a 12-4-1 record. She had a season-high five goals in a 10-1 win over The Burlington School on March 22, and a hat trick in back-to-back wins over Southside Christian and Freedom Christian earlier that month. Meggs had a trio of two-goal matches down the stretch against key opponents as Grace fought for, and earned, a double-bye in the playoffs. She had two goals and an assist in a win over North Moore, two goals in a 3-3 draw at O'Neal School, and two goals and an assist in the team's 5-1 win over Gaston Christian in the playoffs. That last win put the Lady Crusaders in the state final four for the fourth consecutive season.

A number of players representing Lee County and Southern Lee in these sports won various honors as well, but not all of these teams have been released to the public yet. The Herald will report on these once all of the information is available.