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East Forsyth's Kierston Deal named Gatorade state player of the year

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East Forsyth left-hander Kierston Deal went 23-3 with a 0.79 ERA and struck out 305 batters in 150⅓ innings this season and led the Eagles to the NCHSAA Class 4-A championship series. She also batted .533 with five home runs and 28 RBI to earn the Gatorade North Carolina Softball Player of the Year Award.

East Forsyth senior Kierston Deal has been named the 2021-22 Gatorade North Carolina Softball Player of the Year.

The award, which recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Deal as North Carolina’s best high school softball player. She is now a finalist for the Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year award to be announced later this month.

Deal, a 5-foot-7 left-handed pitcher, led the Eagles (27-3) to the NCHSAA Class 4-A championship series her last two years at East Forsyth. The Eagles lost to Wilmington Hoggard in 2021 and Greenville Conley in 2022, both times in three games. Deal posted a 23-3 record with a 0.79 ERA, striking out 305 batters in 150⅓ innings pitched, while walking 34. She also batted .533 with five home runs and 28 RBI. The Central Piedmont Conference player of the year and three-time pitcher of the year, Deal is an Extra Inning Softball First Team All-American. She was ranked as the nation’s No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2022 by Extra Inning Softball and signed with top-ranked Oklahoma.

Deal, a devoted member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, has served as a peer tutor at East Forsyth and has volunteered locally on behalf of the Salvation Army, a Vacation Bible School and youth sports programs. Deal has maintained a weighted 4.38 grade-point average in the classroom.

“Kierston Deal is the kind of top-notch athlete that doesn’t come around often,” said Natalie Layden, head coach at CPC rival Reagan. “The statistics showing what she does on the mound and in the box speak for themselves, but she is a real competitor who understands what it takes to be successful.”

Through Gatorade’s “Play it Forward” platform, Deal has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national organization of their choosing that helps young athletes realize the benefits of playing sports. The East Forsyth senior also is eligible to submit a short video explaining why the organization she chose is deserving of one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants, which will be announced throughout the year.

Contact Joe Sirera at 336-373-7034 and follow @JoeSireraSports on Twitter.

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