Lady Legion softball preview: Hickory Post 48 looks to reach top of the mountain in Year 2 of sanctioned league play

Marcus Smith
Sports Editor

On the cusp of glory in the first year of sanctioned North Carolina American Lady Legion Fastpitch Softball in 2018, Hickory Post 48 (19-6 overall) fell just short of the ultimate goal.

Concord Post 51 got the better of them in the state championship series to become back-to-back victors.

Although falling short of a state championship, Post 48 made history by becoming the first team to win the Western division-North crown under the new sanction, using a combined five teams from Catawba County to do so- Bandys, St. Stephens, Fred T. Foard, Newton-Conover and Maiden.

For the 2019 season, the third year of Lady Legion play, Post 48 will utilize players from some of those aforementioned teams, as well as collegiate players and other high schools.

This season will still see players from Bandys, Newton-Conover, St. Stephens, but will also have a player coming from Bunker Hill (Dalesha Linebarger) and one from Challenger (Layne Sain). Furthermore, the team will have a collection of players from Surry Community College, including Madison Rowe, some of which are returning players like Rowe.

“We have a few new faces this year that should help us tremendously, including Payton Goble, Emilee Dishman and Jillian Parrish,” said Post 48 head coach, Todd Smith. “I believe we have a great mixture of speed and power on our team, and depending on the situation we will always have someone on the bench that can step in any one of those crucial situations, whether it be to run bases or get that critical hit.”

Smith said that the team’s success would depend a lot on leadership and how well the team gels together with the new additions in order to get to the top of the mountain.

“Last year, I had great leadership from my upperclassmen and all the players really got along well, cheered for each other and just enjoyed playing ball,” he said. “One of my most vocal leaders, Sierra Hines, has aged out, but I know our veterans will step up and take on that leadership role...We have a lot of returners from a year ago that are going to be a key to our success, especially my college veterans: Emma Lay, Madison Rowe and McKenzie Deal.”

As for the players that Smith will use on the mound, he said that it will be a four player pitching rotation with Deal (Surry CC), Goble (Surry CC), Destini Vines (Newton-Conover) and Mayson Lail (St. Stephens).

“I have all the confidence in the world in our pitching coach, Taylor Shook, to match up the pitchers with the team we are playing and if it doesn’t work out, we will always have another one ready to go in,” said Smith. “As far as defensively, we use a rotation by committee. In our league, we are allowed free substitution on defense, so we let the ladies go in and out as they please. We love this format because the players get plenty of playing time each night.”

Ultimately, Smith said he just wants the kids to enjoy this league and have fun doing it. He said since the league has grown, it will give his ladies a chance to compete night in and night out, as well as bond with their teammates who they typically compete against in high school.

Post 48 will have its first chance to get on the right track in heading to the top of the mountain in 2019 on Thursday, June 6 - weather permitting- against Wilkes Post 30 at West Wilkes High. All games will be double-headers and 5-innings with the first game beginning at 7 p.m. It will also play two days a week yet again (Tuesday and Thursday) with home games taking place at Lenoir-Rhyne University.