High school softball: Young North team had 2 early wins

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 14, 2020

By Mike London

North Rown softball

Coach: Shelia Lingle (3rd season)

Previous 5 years: 14-64

2019 record: 2-18 overall, 2-14 Yadkin Valley Conference

2020 record: 2-2

Seniors: None

SPENCER — Late in 2017, Shelia Lingle retired as a captain after 30 years with the Salisbury Police Department, so she brings unique experience and perpective to high school sports.

Lingle competed in softball, tennis and basketball in her playing days at North Rowan in the 1980s. She was a double-figure scorer for North in basketball her senior year. Her daughters, Anna and Allison, were athletes at North. Anna played college lacrosse at Lees-McRae.

This was Lingle’s third year as North Rowan’s head softball coach. That’s a job that requires patience, as North rarely has the travel-ball players that dominate the sport. But patience is something Lingle has. Once you’ve spent decades in criminal investigations, errors and strikeouts on athletic fields aren’t exactly matters of life and death.

“The biggest thing about sports is they do build character,” Lingle said. “Learning to be part of a team — that’s important.”

Lingle sounds like she’s in it for the long haul. She said there are two North Rowan Middle girls taking pitching lessons. She excited about that. She said there are promising players on the way, and the team she is coaching now is very young.

“It all has to start with pitching and catching if you’re going to have a chance to play the game,” Lingle said. “Last year we had a really good outfielder (McKenzie Shoaf) who had to pitch for us. She’s a great kid and she did her best and got the ball over the plate. This year we had a freshman pitcher (Chloee Stoner), who was showing a lot of potential. And we had two good catchers in Bella Smith and Lily Savage.”

Stoner, a veteran of Rowan Little League softball’s championship teams, is the sort of experienced player the Cavaliers don’t often get. Also a basketball and volleyball athlete, she’s someone they can build a program around.

North swept an early-season Yadkin Valley Conference doubleheader from Albemarle. Stoner had 20 strikeouts in 3-2 and 5-0 wins and also swatted a home run.

Smith, Savage and freshman outfielder Jaylah Bethea swung the bats with authority against Albemarle.

Junior Anna Everhart was playing smoothly at second base in the early games, while freshman Kiasia Wallace was showing promise as a fearless third baseman.

“We only won two games all last year, but we already had two wins this year and we were going to put up a lot more,” Lingle said. “I hate it for our girls that the season was stopped. They were coming along.”

North has only 10 players on the roster. Six are freshmen.

The Cavaliers don’t have any seniors, technically, but Lingle knows this will be the last softball season for Savage, the starting shortstop and backup catcher. She plans to graduate in December and head into military service.

The young Cavaliers are ready to take another step forward whenever they can return to the field — even if the COVID-19 outbreak forces them to wait until next spring.

“We’ve set a lot of goals, goals that are attainable for our girls,” Lingle said. “We play in a very tough softball league, but we’ll keep building for the day when we can have a winning season.”