KERNERSVILLE, N.C. (WGHP) — The East Forsyth softball team is headed back to the state championship series after settling for second place last year. This season, the Eagles are fighting to win it all, riding a 25-game win streak entering the title series.

East Forsyth’s team boasts talent at every position, but one key player has been crucial in the Eagles’ success.

“She not only wants to win, she wants to beat you, and that’s part of her competitive drive,” East Forsyth pitching coach Herschel Redding explained. “That’s really good as a pitcher, and she still keeps an even keel about performance on and off the field.”

He’s talking about Kierston Deal: the head turning, hard working, passion driven powerhouse wheeling and dealing in the circle for East Forsyth.

“She had mound presence that I had never experienced for a young player,” Coach Redding said of the first time he saw her pitch in the ninth grade.

It doesn’t take more than a glance at the stat sheet to back up his claims. Deal had racked up 265 strikeouts this season, tallying 742 in her high school career.

“I wasn’t really well known at first,” she remembered. “Then just coming in being the underdog and spreading my wings and making a really big impact – that really showed everybody.”

Her stats have some ranking her as the top recruit in the nation. That talent stemmed from the love of a game at a young age.

“I just remember watching Oklahoma and Alabama on TV,” she said. “And I was like, ‘man, I want to play college softball because they’re on TV a lot.'”

The Oklahoma Sooners boast a program that is consistently one of the top-ranked in the country. Football has Alabama, basketball has Duke and UNC and softball has Oklahoma.

Sounds like it would be the perfect pairing for Kierston, right? That’s what legendary coach Patty Gasso thought, at least.

“You could see my mom in the corner just be like, ‘oh my gosh, you are not talking to Patty Gasso right now,'” Deal remembered on her first conversation with Coach Gasso. “It was like a starstruck moment. I was like, ‘I’m used to watching her on TV not talking to her on the phone, having her number.'”

It only took one visit to OU’s campus for Kierston to know this was her home away from home.

“This is where I want to go. No more visits. I’m done,” she remembered saying after her official visit. “They really cared about not only me as a player but as a person too, and so I really felt like that was the place.”

The best player in the country committing to the best school in the country – a major moment not just for Kierston, but her entire team.

” said ‘wow, my jaw is dropping,’ and I said ‘this is unbelievable,'” Coach Redding mentioned of when he learned about Kierston’s commitment. “I’m so happy.”

As a Sooner, Kierston hopes to continue to do what she does best: win. 

Over the past four years, the Eagles have played 70 games. They’ve only lost five – two of those being in last year’s state championship series. Now headed back, this team hopes to rewrite the ending.

“They worked hard…she’s ready,” Coach Redding said. “There’s no way to keep that ball out of her hands…to be able to just pursue that opportunity for number one is great. And number two, if we get it, it will honestly be their crowning achievement that is going to stay in our memory bank forever. That’s something these kids will take with them forever.”

“The season before that being cut off and then the short season last year…we’ll be looking at the tip of the iceberg on my career for sure at East,” Deal added.

A career that has become a lasting legacy within the Eagles program no matter the result in the championship series. 

East Forsyth will play D.H. Conley for the 4A state title in a best-of-three series at Duke University.

The schedule is as follows:

  • Game 1 – Friday, June 3 – 7 p.m.
  • Game 2 – Saturday, June 4 – 12 p.m.
  • Game 3 – Saturday, June 4 – 3 p.m. (if needed)