July 18, 2019

Pfeiffer duo’s historic softball run winding down in Meisenheimer

Sherrill & Millsaps rewriting Falcon record book

By D.N. PENNELL, Jr.
 For the past four seasons, Pfeiffer University Softball fans have often been treated to a show only seen before off Liledoun Road in Taylorsville at Central Park.
For the past four seasons, seniors Vada Blue Sherrill and Kiana M

CELEBRATED DUO – Pfeiffer University Coach Monte Sherrill is pictured with outgoing seniors Vada Sherrill, left, and Kiana Millsaps during the school’s “Senior Day” earlier this season. The former ACHS players are two of Pfeiffer’s most prolific players ever.

illsaps have been mainstays on the Pfeiffer diamond and have re-written the school’s softball record books.

Prior to following Coach Monte Sherrill to Meisenheimer for college ball, Sherrill and Millsaps were top-notch prep players for Alexander Central. The pair earned state title rings during their playing days in Taylorsville and will go into the ACHS softball history books as two of the program’s top performers ever.
 When Monte Sherrill retired from high school coaching to accept the job at Pfeiffer, his daughter, Vada, and Millsaps were two of his first recruits. In the four years since, the pair has helped build the Falcon program into one of the best in Division II and Division III softball.
 Last season, Pfeiffer captured the ECAC (Eastern College Athletic Conference) championship and finished the season with a record of 37-5. In 2016 and 2017, the Falcons compiled an 85-25 record and earned trips to the Division II Regional Finals.
During the current season, the team was part of  a special win for its Head Coach Monte Sherrill, who resides in Hiddenite. The team picked up the 900th career win of Coach Sherrill’s high school and coaching career. The coach posted a record of 753-60 at a pair of high schools with most of his prep victories coming at Alexander Central. Before retiring from high school coaching, Sherrill led the Lady Cougars to eight of the school’s 10 NC state championships.
This year, Coach Sherrill’s Lady Falcons have posted a 33-7 record and are set to being play in the ECAC Championship Tournament on Wednesday, May 8. The team will be defending the title it captured last season in its first season of Division III softball.
Sherrill, Millsaps, and another former Cougar, Makenzie Pennell, have been a huge part of the team’s successes in 2019. Sherrill was named to USA South Softball Player of the Year, while Millsaps and Pennell were voted to the All-Conference East First Team.
In her four-year career at Pfeiffer, Sherrill has become the most prolific player in the school’s history. She currently holds 10 career records including most hits (248), runs (254), home runs (43), RBI (198), stolen bases (198), and batting average (.411). She also holds school records in total bases, walks, doubles, and extra base hits. This year, Sherrill captured Player of the Year honors after breaking the school record for batting average in a season with her current mark of .500. She also holds the single season record for runs scored, home runs, doubles, total bases, extra base hits, and RBI.

Millsaps has developed into a weapon for Coach Sherrill in the pitching circle. After winning 10 games in her first two seasons at Pfeiffer, the former Lady Cougar standing has been dominant over her last two seasons for the Falcons. Last year, Millsaps finished 24-4 with nine complete games. This season, the senior ace set a new school record with 25 mound wins. Her 59 career wins in a new record for Pfeiffer softball.
In addition to her work in the circle, Millsaps has been a big bat for Coach Sherrill’s offensive lineup for four seasons. She is a career .330 hitter with 22 career round trippers and 166 RBI. This spring, she is batting .387 with 10 homers and 43 runs-batted-in.
On Saturday, April 6, in Misenheimer, Pfeiffer honored its two seniors and two of the cornerstone of the program which has captured 153 wins in four seasons. That day, the Falcons split a doubleheader with Averett. Prior to the twin bill, the school and the softball program recognized Sherrill and Millsaps and their families with a “Senior Day” ceremony.
Coach Monte Sherrill looked back on the dynamic duo he had the please of coaching for the past eight seasons.
“No words can express how much I will miss these two. I remember back when Scotty Miller and I coached them in 10U rec basketball. Now, here they are finishing up their fourth college season. What a tremendous honor it’s been to coach them the whole way.  I have loved all the AC girls coming to Pfeiffer to play softball – just like Bailey, Amanda Sports, Hannah St. Clair, Kendra Mayes, Mic Pennell and Alexis Walter. However, these two were with me all four years at AC and all four years at Pfeiffer.  For essentially eight years now, I’ve written #1 Sherrill (Vada) at SS (6 spot) on the first line of the scorecard and #25 Millsaps (Kiana) in the circle (1 spot) on the fourth or fifth line. Their record now tallies 126-4 in HS and 155-37 in college. What an amazing ride these two players have taken me,” Sherrill quipped.

“Kiana is like a “diesel “ engine, strong and powerful. She’s steady, always reliable, always there. Vada is the nitro-burning dragster playing at lightning speed with a rifle arm, and flair causing other teams’ jaws drop. They’re a true contrast in style but can share a common title: “WINNERS”.  I am beyond proud to have coached them,” Sherrill added.
With their collegiate careers winding down, Sherrill and Millsaps recently talked about what playing college softball in Misenheimer has meant to them and how much Alexander County has played a part in the people and players they are today.
“From literally growing up at Central Park with some dirt and a glove as my toys and now the 22 year old individual I am today at Pfeiffer, what an incredible ride it’s been. With graduation coming up, it’s definitely a bittersweet feeling. I look back on my four years here in Misenheimer and I couldn’t have asked of a better experience. I’ve been able to gain my degree in Health and Physical Education, have the time of my life out on the field, and meet some people that have forever changed my life. As a team, we’ve excelled and set numerous records because of practice and discipline but there’s one thing that I put above that. Getting to play for your dad and alongside the friend you used to go crawdad catching with is something that I’ll cherish forever. Kiana and I have been together since the beginning, putting every ounce of energy and heart into the programs we’ve been a part of, and I’m so glad to go out on top with her by my side,” Vada Blue Sherrill said.
She said if she could offer advice to any younger players in Alexander, she would tell them to never be satisfied.
Sherrill added, “Talking to my younger self or a current player at AC, I would say to soak up every moment, learn your way to overcome adversity on and off the field, and to never be satisfied. You have one of two options when a situation is presented to you: for it to make you better or make you bitter (In the wise words of Chris Meade). You can go through the motions or make every second or action count, you can let people that tear you down discourage you or make you more driven, and feel comfortable with what you are in the present moment or get 1% better every day. To the people of Alexander County, thank you for all your love and support, whether it be a phone call or seeing you in the stands, throughout our lives. To my family, there’s really no words that could possibly tell you how much you mean to me. We’ve been through thick and thin and have made softball the fourth Sherrill sister.”
After graduation, Sherrill plans on doing a coaching and teaching combo to put both of her passions for   youth’s health and softball together.

Millsaps, who plans to enter nursing profession and plans to work at Frye Regional Medical Center after college, also spoke her playing career at Pfeiffer and how important her Alexander County ties have been to her career as a player and nursing student.

“My experience at Pfeiffer University has been nothing short of amazing. I am very thankful for the friends that I have made along the way, both on and off the field. I was very blessed to play the sport I love and major in one of the hardest majors offered at Pfeiffer. I am very thankful for all the coaches and teachers that have molded me into the person I am today,” Millsaps said.  “I feel that this senior class has made a huge impact on the softball program. We have worked hard to have what we have at Pfeiffer. Vada and I are two of the toughest people you will meet on the field. We are very vocal, but I think most of our leadership comes from the way we approach playing ball. When we cross that line, we are locked and loaded.”
The Falcons ace and record holder for career wins continued, “To the people of Alexander County, thank you so much for the support you guys have shown us over the years, whether it be as an Alexander Cougar or a Pfeiffer Falcon. It’s been a great ride and I am thankful for everyone who has supported us. We are truly blessed with some great friends and family.”
FALCONS OPEN PLAYOFFS TODAY
The Pfeiffer University softball team will begin the task of defending their 2018 title as the Falcons have been tabbed the third overall seed in the 2019 ECAC Division III Softball Tournament.  First round games will be held on Wednesday, May 8 at campus sites with the semifinals and championship games to be held at Penn State-Behrend’s campus Softball Complex in Erie, Pa.  Pfeiffer will start the defense of their ECAC Championship on Wednesday, May 8 as they travel to sixth-seeded Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.  The Falcons completed the regular season with a 33-7 overall record, including an 11-5 mark in USA South play.  Of the 33 wins, 21 came by run-rule, as the Falcons outscored their opponents 372-110 this season. Established in 1938, the ECAC is the nation’s largest Conference, ranging in location from Maine to Georgia, and westerly to Missouri. The ECAC hosts numerous championships in men’s and women’s sports across Divisions I, II and III, offering opportunities for thousands of student-athletes. For more information, visit www.ecacsports.com.
Another Career Milestone…
Earlier this season, Pfeiffer Head Coach Monte Sherrill picked up his 900th combined coaching wins for high school and college. Several college coaches from across the country recently commented on the Hiddenite’s native success in high school and college coaching.
“Monte Sherrill is one of the top coaches in college softball at any level. I enjoy talking strategy and technique with him and we often share ideas. He has coached several players who played in the SEC and they have all been outstanding performers.  He is innovative and has developed many techniques used by my fellow coaches on a daily basis. His daughter, Vada, was offered by several SEC teams but elected to play for her dad.”
-Ralph Weekly,
University of Tennessee Head Coach

“Coach Monte Sherrill has a coaching record that is not just defined by an amazng won and loss record, it is defined by excellence in every area of his involvement.   His work habit, his leadership skills, and his competitive drive all become instilled in his teams and athletes and those athletes will carry his legacy on in their lives forever.  He is a winner and his athletes therefore become winners for far longer than any individual softball game, season or career will last.  Coach Monte is simply one of the best softball coaches to ever coach in our sport,”
– Gerry Glasco,
Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Head Coach

 “It is no surprise to me that Coach Sherrill has reached this incredible milestone. I have never been around another coach that instructs and teaches the game the way he does. Every team he puts on the field competes and wins, year after year, because of the way he coaches them. I am proud to have played for him and am thankful for the player, and person, he molded me into,”
-Chelsea Wilkinson,
NC State University Assistant Coach
 “Monte knows how to work with young people, find their talents and get the most out of them… he is a master at that. He models everything you would expect for a teacher, a coach, a mentor every day. I have been watching it for many years and his success is proven. To play for Monte, you can rest assured that he will get out of them, their very best. He’s so meticulous with his strategies and every game his teams are prepared to be at their best,”
 – Mike Smith, Ole Miss Rebels Head Coach
“Congrats to Coach Monte Sherrill on his 900th win! What an accomplishment for any coach at any level,”
 – Pat Murphy – University of Alabama Head Coach
“Congrats to Coach Sherill on achieving 900 wins. This is and outstanding accomplishment. But even more special than all the wins is the positive impact he has had on so many lives in his years of coaching.  Keep up the good work!”
 – Lu Harris Champer – University of Georgia Head Coach

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