High school softball: East had won 3 straight, when play stopped
By Mike London
East Rowan softball
Coach: Sandy Basinger
Previous 5 years: 56-58
2019 record: 13-10 overall, 6-4 North Piedmont Conference (3rd)
2020 record: 3-2
Seniors: Karley Teague, Kaitlyn Samples, Victoria Lewis, Caroline Houpe
GRANITE QUARRY — The opener was forgettable, but East Rowan softball was back on track and was on its way to a nice season when play was halted in mid-March.
“We’ve got a good-hitting team with experienced pitchers (senior Karley Teague and Haley Strange) who could give hitters different looks,” East coach Sandy Basinger said. “Mac Misenheimer was doing a great job at shortstop and anchoring our defense. I believe we were going to do well.”
East won what may be its final outing on Thursday, March 12, when it took a 10-4 victory at South Rowan. If that proves to be Teague’s final game, it was a great way to go out. She threw all seven innings, with five strikeouts and only one walk.
“It was very emotional,” Basinger said. “We knew there was at least a chance it would be the last time some of our girls would ever play in an East uniform. We knew it could be the last game that Karley got to pitch. Parents were taking a lot of pictures, and I’m glad that they did. They had more foresight than I did. On that night, I really thought that we’d be playing again.”
East has four seniors. Teague, Caroline Houpe (who joined the team after a successful basketball season), Victoria Lewis and Kaitlyn Samples were all important players.
“Caroline was just getting her softball legs when the season stopped,” Basinger said. “Victoria didn’t play last year, but she decided to come back and was really hitting the ball well. Kaitlyn is always a good outfielder and a good hitter.”
Basinger assisted Michael Waddell with the East program for many years. Waddell, who has been with East’s program since the 1990s, was taking this year off to devote more time to his family, so Basinger was leading the team. She was being assisted by Scott Eagle, who served as an assistant to Kevin Holland during the girls basketball season.
“Coach Waddell was still lining off the field for all our home games,” Basinger said. “He wasn’t far away.”
East’s season got off to a shaky start with a 9-6 loss to Concord despite a big offensive game by East’s Maddie Schroeder.
“We had a lot of rainouts early and we were only able to get outside for a few practices before we played,” Basinger said.
East split a doubleheader with Cox Mill the next time the Mustangs played. East won the nightcap, 6-4, behind Teague. Misenheimer, Schroeder, Lewis, Strange and Samples had productive offensive games. Strange belted a home run.
In a rematch at Concord, East was a different team than it had been in the first meeting and romped 13-1, with Strange striking out 10 Spiders. Misenheimer, Schroeder, Lewis, Strange and Samples had strong offensive games.
“I think we’d learned a lot about working together,” Basinger said. “We’d learned it didn’t matter who pitched and it didn’t matter what position people were playing in the field. We’ve got some versatile girls who could do a good job in three or four different positions.”
East’s fifth game was the South Rowan game. East put together a six-run second inning to take an 8-0 lead and was able to cruise. Strange had a two-run triple, while Samples had a two-run double and four RBIs.
Now East’s three-game winning streak is on hold.
“Those first few days without softball were hard,” Basinger said. “Our girls were wanting to come in and hit, and I’d have to tell them that we couldn’t do that. Then I had to send out an email telling them sports were shut down (at least through May 18).”
The NCHSAA’s Que Tucker expressed hope on Tuesday that there can still be a “modified spring sports season,” starting when school resumes, so it’s not quite over yet. But April and most of May are out of the picture. Those good times and good memories will be impossible to replace.
“I hate it for our seniors, but everybody loses, all of our kids are losing something,” Basinger said. “When you don’t have sports, it’s a loss not just to the team and the school, but to the community and to the county.”
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