Prep Softball: Perrine, Jones had busy summer

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 2, 2011

By Mike London
LANDIS — South Rowan’s Kaitlyn Jones and West Rowan’s Sarah Perrine are unlikely to ever tire of softball.
The acid test came this summer when their Charlotte-based Lady Blues travel team played 46 games in a seven-week stretch in June and July in which they competed against top players from 14 different states.
The pair of rising seniors traveled as far as Colorado.
“You can get tired driving to Colorado because that’s a 25-hour trip,” Jones said. “Gas is high, but it’s still cheaper than a plane ticket. We saved a little money.”
Runner-up in the ASA State Championships in July, the Blues were one of the better teams in the Carolinas.
“We won most of our games,” Perrine said. “We had a very strong team, built for speed. We tripled the score on a lot of people.”
Officially, the Blues outscored foes 236 to 127, shut out 16 opponents and batted .323 as a team.
The Blues went 16-4 against Carolinas competition, but it got more challenging out west. They finished the summer 30-16.
“The competition was real tough in Colorado — 18 and under travel ball is a whole different world than high school softball,” Jones said. “The teams from the West Coast play year round. They were all very good.”
Perrine is a shortstop, but her speed also makes her a valuable outfielder. She played some center field when a teammate went down with a broken ankle.
“I’m kinda fast so I can play outfield if I’m needed,” said Perrine, who stole six bases and batted .500 in the Battle of the Border Showcase between all-stars from North and South Carolina. “It helps to be versatile, but shortstop is my position. I think that’s where everyone looks at me.”
Because of her unusual speed, fine arm and good size, Perrine, already a two-time all-county player, is a Division I prospect. Quite a few coaches stopped by Mount Ulla to watch her last season.
She said she’s gotten a few offers, but she hasn’t made a commitment yet.
“The past six years or so, the Lady Blues have had about 50 D-I girls,” Perrine said. “All seven seniors signed D-I two years ago, and all three went D-I last year. “Hopefully, it’s my turn now.”
Jones plays shortstop for South, but she’s primarily a third baseman at the elite level. She has a strong bat and dependable glove, but she doesn’t have Perrine’s wheels. She’s sure to sign with someone, but it will likely be at a smaller school.
Jones lists Belmont Abbey, Wingate, Francis Marion and Salem as colleges that have shown interest.
“I don’t think anyone who has made this team has ever not signed somewhere,” Jones said. “There’s some satisfaction in that.”
Both Rowan girls said playing for the Lady Blues is fun, but it’s also serious business.
Coach Monica Armendarez lives in Kannapolis, but she was a hard-hitting, record-setting infielder who broke records at Indiana in the late 1990s. Armendarez was a four-time All-Big Ten player and a two-time All-American, so she knows what it takes to succeed in college softball.
“She’s a really strong coach and is very hard on us,” Perrine said. “Most of the teams we played weren’t as disciplined as we were, and not all the teams had curfews like we did, but when it came time to play the games we were always prepared and ready to play our best.”
Jones agreed.
“The Lady Blues are about discipline and dedication,” she said. “We work hard at softball. It’s like a college team. That’s the main thing.”
Perrine and Jones are kicking back this week.
Well, sort of.
They’re resting from softball, but both have started volleyball practice with their school teams.
“I couldn’t believe how sore I was after the first volleyball practice,” Perrine said. “I’m in shape, but you use a whole different bunch of muscles for volleyball.”
In less than a week, Perrine and Jones will also be trying out to play with the Lady Blues fall travel team. Yes, they get to try out all over again. Nothing’s easy with the Blues.
So will there ever be a real vacation from softball?
“Yeah, Thanksgiving to Christmas,” Perrine said with a laugh. “We take a break then because of the holidays and because it’s so cold. But then we start to miss it.”