GREENSBORO – Around noon on Friday evening, much of the Central Cabarrus student body lined the road along the school’s athletic fields and gave the softball team a champion’s sendoff.
Students and faculty members waved and screamed support as the Vikings’ bus left for Greensboro to play Eastern Alamance in the Class 3A state championship series, with Game 1 slated to start at 5 p.m.
The Vikings got to UNC Greensboro’s stadium safely and got on the field to stretch and get ready to play.
Then, lightning was seen, and the start time had to be delayed. Then rain came, and the players sat around some more, a few of them stepping out to see family friends who made the trip from Concord. Finally, more than 1½ hours after the game was to begin, the N.C. High School Athletic Association announced that the game had been pushed back until Saturday.
With warnings of more severe weather later in the evening, the Vikings’ bid for the state title would have to wait a day.
Central Cabarrus and Eastern Alamance are scheduled to start their best-of-3 series Saturday at 11 a.m. at UNCG. Game 2 will be at 5 p.m. If a third and deciding game is needed, it would take place on Sunday at a time to be determined.
Central Cabarrus coach Charlie Blackwelder said his team had worked hard all week and was ready to play Friday evening.
“The excitement was building,” Blackwelder said. “We had a really big sendoff at Central, with the whole school coming out. Everything was on schedule. And then we get up here, the rain comes and they tarp the field.
“The girls are still excited to play, and we just kind of hung around the whole time. It was kind of a letdown not to get to play.”
Since the Vikings were already planning to stay overnight in Greensboro Friday, they simply went to their hotel a tad earlier than expected. Blackwelder said he doesn’t think the postponement will have a negative impact on his players as they look to win Central Cabarrus’ first state championship since 2005.
“The girls know what’s at stake, so I don’t think delaying it to play the next day is going to matter to them,” he said. “They know that this is a huge game for the community and school, so they’ll be ready to play.”