Lady Legion senior softball: Hickory Post 48’s season ends earlier than expected

Hickory Post 48's Ashtyn Hopson (9) hits a double that helped spark her team to a rally in the bottom of the seventh in the Area 1 semifinals against North Gaston Post 266 at Lenoir-Rhyne on Friday, August 2.
Marcus Smith
Sports Editor

Seasons come and go, and unfortunately, sometimes they can end abruptly for teams.

This was the case for Hickory Post 48’s Lady Legion senior softball squad. Its season came to a halt on Friday, August 2 in the Area 1 state playoffs as No. 9-seed North Gaston Post 266 upset the No. 5-seeded host, 9-4, in the area semifinals.

The season wasn’t all a loss though as Post 48 (13-5) finished in second place behind Burke Post 21 in the Area Western-North division.

In its first game of the playoffs, the Area 1 quarterfinals against Wilkes Post 31, Post 48 clicked offensively and defensively to come away with a 6-1 victory on Wednesday, July 31.

Emma Lay would lead the way on offense, and Mayson Lail -- the St. Stephens product -- had a huge game on the mound in the win.

Lay knocked back a double and a base hit while bringing in three runners (McKenzie Deal, Shi Pope and Kayla Hollar.)

Lail was a tear as she struck out batter after batter for 16 on the night.

Nevertheless, the same type of play didn’t transpire in the semifinal match-up with the red-hot North Gaston team, ultimately succumbing.

Post 266 had been on a little roll after beating No. 8 Shelby Post 82, then upsetting No. 1-seed, Burke Post 21.

The game began roughly as North Gaston’s Sarah Ward kicked things off with a two-run homer in the top of the first, leading 2-0 at the time.

The contest would be halted through the top of the fifth due to heavy flooding and moved to Friday, Post 266 leading 7-0.

As the game finished up on Friday, Lail would be the closer on the mound and she would only give up two runs.

In the final frame, Post 48 rallied in a big way to score four runs and avoid a shutout. Ashtyn Hopson ignited the spurt first with a double, then Lay would get on base.

Hollar would be the one to get her team on the board though as she connected on a double that brought in two. Deal would follow on a slide home, then Lay hit an RBI single to bring in Pope, closing the gap 9-4. However, there wasn’t enough time to have a complete comeback as it had two outs when momentum was gaining.

“I was really proud of our competitiveness all year,” said Post 48 head coach, Todd Smith. “...The ladies fought until the very last out. I think that is a compliment for their love of the game and pride in representing their county and Hickory Post 48.

“Anytime you can just coach and not have to deal with any internal issues on the team, it makes for a good season. I believe that has been one reason we have been so successful the last two years because we have had great team leaders.”

Now that the season is over, it’s time to look at the future which will be without Deal, Katelynn Thompson, Madison Rowe, Jill Parrish and Emilee Dishman due to aging out in year three of sanctioned play in 2020.